Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Lara Johnson: About Me

I was born in NY to a mother of Venezuelan and Colombian decent and father of Russian and German decent. I was an only child until I was 13, when my little sister Natasha was born. My mother said she remembers me as a little baby waking up in my crib singing!
I have always loved to sing and perform. I started dancing when I was 3 and playing the piano when I was 7. My first play was "Oklahoma!" in 5th grade at Glen Cove Gribbin School with Mrs. Tortarella. My dream was to perform on Broadway.
I was asked by a talent scout to join a NYC children's theater group after he had seen me as Nancy in "Oliver!" at Glen Cove Middle School. I was soooo disappointed because we were moving to CA and would have to turn him down. My father,Yuri Hamke, had just opened The Piano Shop in Lomita, CA. He was visited by missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and started attending church and going to firesides. When my mother, sister and I arrived, he started taking us as well.
One day after a fireside, we were asked to take a boy home who lived in Redondo Beach close to us. On the ride home he told us that his mother ran The South Bay Center for the Performing Arts and taught voice and acting classes. My parents fought about the church and so we never went back.
A few months later a girl at school told me about auditions for "Cinderella" and gave me a flier for it. My Mom took me, and as we pulled up she said, "Isn't this the same place we dropped off that Mormon boy?" I didn't remember, but it was! I got the part of Cinderella and so began my relationship with Pam Lockwood and her family.
I was cast in another show, this one written by Pam and her son Karrol Cobb. It was a show called "The Light Express". It was a show about our "train ride" through life. Beginning with birth and ending in death. The main character was the "Engineer" who was leading us but we couldn't see him. ;) We had done this show many, many times, and one night during a performance, towards the end of the show, we were all on the stage with our backs to the audience, when one of the characters wife dies and the husband is grieving the "Engineer" whispers to him, "You will see your wife again. You will be be with her again. Death is not the end." (Something like that.)
I had something come over me. My whole body was filled with this warm, powerful energy that somehow told me that what I had just heard and what was just said was true. I had done this scene a million times! I was so emotional, tears streaming down my face, that I could hardly sing! All of my cast members got emotional too. They knew what had happened to me. : )
I asked to take the missionary discussions. I would walk to the Center after school and meet with the missionaires. The very first discussion was incredible to me. It was as if I had heard all of this before. I recognized it somehow. I wouldn't let the missionaires stop at just one discussion. They taught me three!
I started reading the Book of Mormon and Doctine and Covenants, which I loved! I remember when I got down on my knees and asked God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ if The Book of Mormon really was what it professed to be, if it really was scripture about the ancient people of the America's and Christ's visitation to them and His teachings.
Once again, I will never forget the very same experience as I had on stage that one night. It overcame me. It was so warm and powerful and confirming that YES it was true!
I can never forget and will never deny those experiences. They have strengthed me and have given me an unshakeable testimony of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
After about two years my parents divorced. I moved in with Pam at the Center and was soon baptized a day after I turned 16. I started teaching piano when I was 15 in my fathers store, and when I learned how to drive I started teaching in my students' homes. I taught until I was nine months pregnant with my first child - 10 years!
I continued to perform, but now I had a greater dream. I wanted to be married in the Temple and have a family of my own. I met my eternal companion, John, at a singles dance. We married in The Los Angeles Temple and after about a year moved to Utah.
I started a free exercise class in my Stake Center for women, where they could also bring their children. I continue to teach this class three times a week.
I have been in dozens of shows, multiple choirs and performing groups, The Young Americans, sung in a band, sung in a restaurant, recorded demos and CD's for Greg McDougle, Bryce Neubert, Jenny Phillips, The Brothers Cobb and Frankie Tusieseina and had a #1 song in Samoa!
BUT, my greatest achievement and joy has been as wife and mother. We have 4 beautiful children whom we cherish and adore. Nothing I have ever done, or could ever do, could compare. My family is the MOST important thing to me in this life.
I am so grateful to my Father in Heaven and Savior Jesus Christ for their guiding influence throughout my entire life. This music comes from Them. It all comes from Them. I am grateful to be an instrument in Their hands and share the talents which They have given me with you. I LOVE the hymns and these arrangements. It is my prayer that you might feel and recognize the Spirit through these Hymnsongs and come closer to our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. They love us, They hear and answer our prayers, They LIVE. Of this I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, AMEN.