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Peggy Still Johnson Retires from Callanwolde

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For immediate release.


Michael Turner

Marketing and Publicity Director

404-872-5338 ext. 228


Callanwolde Fine Arts Center Executive Director, Peggy Still Johnson, Stepping Down

November 13, 2017. Atlanta, GA

Nearly five years ago the Board of Directors at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center set ambitious goals for newly hired Executive Director, Peggy Still Johnson. Much to their surprise, Peggy would accomplish these goals in half the time they expected. Top on this list of priorities was to restore all seven of the buildings on the 12-acre campus to their past glory and, in doing so, expand the program offerings to better serve the diverse arts community in Greater Atlanta. At the time of Johnson’s arrival, only three buildings were being utilized for classes. On October 25th of this year, the Board’s ambitious goal was realized with the ribbon-cutting for the final restoration project at the estate, and for the first time in its history, Callanwolde is able to utilize the entire campus for arts education.

Starting in 2014, Peggy helped lead a Capital Campaign, raising $2.1 million to restore these buildings for classes and workshops. The renovation project includes the Ruby Callaway Robinson GreenHouse, a state of the art climate controlled greenhouse (designed by the architectural firm Lord Aeck Sargent and renovated by Macallan Construction) which will be used for Callanwolde School of Horticulture and Culinary Arts classes and workshops. The Greenhouse has been named in honor of GreenHouse Foundation Co-Founders CeeLo Green and Shedonna Alexander’s grandmother, Ruby Callaway Robinson, and will serve as the new home for the GreenHouse Foundation’s School Partnership Training Program along with Captain Planet Foundation’s Project Learning Garden Program.

Additionally, the Gardener’s Cottage (designed by Lord Aeck Sargent and renovated by Macallan Construction) originally the home of the Candler family’s live-in gardener now serves as Callanwolde’s Rick Baker School of Music and Music Recording; an expansion into music lessons and classes for music recording for which Johnson led the charge. As part of this new focus, Johnson recruited friend and former colleague, Phil Tan, three time Grammy Award winning mixing engineer– to become Callanwolde’s Director of Music Recording and Artist in Residence and to house a state of the art recording studio (designed by Lord Aeck Sargent and renovated by Gay Construction and Baldwin and Clark Construction) on the Callanwolde campus in the third and final building that was part of the restoration project. The recording studio, located in a Barn original to the estate, has hosted Callanwolde music recording classes along with Tan’s work mixing tracks from artists such as Coldplay, Shakira, Fifth Harmony and more. The Barn received a preservation award for “Excellence in Rehabilitation” from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.

Johnson reflects back on her time at Callanwolde as a time of growth, not only for the organization but for her, personally and professionally. “Being the Executive Director, for nearly five years, has been one of the most amazing, hardest and best experiences of my career. I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish in what we thought would take 10 years to do in the transformation of Callanwolde. This could not have been done without the help of so many: staff, Board, DeKalb County, donors, members, volunteers, and all who support Callanwolde by taking classes, buying tickets and renting our facilities. Through counsel from my family, my executive coach and humble prayer, I have decided it is time to step away and see what God has in store for me next. Callanwolde is an amazing gem and I feel humbled I was able to call it my second home these past five years.”

Board member and President, Katie Seitz, says “Peggy Johnson’s impact on Callanwolde and the community will be felt for years to come.”  Past President and Emeritus Board Member Andrew Keenan agrees: “Under Peggy’s leadership, Callanwolde has been transformed to be reflective of the arts and the community today in Atlanta and DeKalb County yet remembering our history and staying true to the mission and longtime supporters. Callanwolde has gone from a ‘hidden gem’ to a ‘known gem’ and we will always be grateful to Peggy for her dedication and hard work these past five years.”

A search for the new Executive Director is underway.  Johnson will remain in her role during the transition which is expected to occur early next year.

Ribbon Cutting   Ruby Callaway Robinson GreenHouse 2

Barn Exterior   Recording Studio

Callanwolde Mansion


Press Release Photos 2017


About Callanwolde Fine Arts Center

The Callanwolde Foundation, operating as Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve the historic Candler Estate and offer fine arts and outreach to the community.


Benjamin Button wins 3 Academy Awards

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In 2006, Peggy was hired by Paramount Pictures to train actress Edith Ivey on piano for her role as the piano teacher (Mrs. Maples) in the 2008 blockbuster movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.). The film was nominated for 13 Academy Awards, winner of 3 Academy Awards.

Benjamin Button_thumb

People on the Move

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Peggy was recently featured in Urban Lux Magazine – “People on the Move” For more information go to


Footsteps album released for 2010

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Peggy has been signed to Aucourant Records for her avant garde recording entitled Footsteps which was re-released in 2010. For more information go to aucourantrecords.comfootsteps

Finale Article About Peggy

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Finale: Where Peggy Still Johnson, Stephen King, John Mellencamp, and T-Bone Burnett Meet

By Scott Yoho7. November 2012 06:52

peggy with t bone burnett - music director

Peggy Still Johnson is an accomplished performer (piano and vocal), composer, arranger, educator, and more. Reading the accomplishments on her website bio is alternately inspiring, humbling, and dizzying in its diversity. She’s performed in Vegas, written choral and instrumental pieces for the dedication of the Mormon Temple in Atlanta, and has been active in the film world as a composer, music supervisor, casting agent, and coach (including work as a piano coach on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button).

Simultaneously with all of the above, she launched three Peggy Still-branded music schools which she sold last year (and which continue to prosper). It’s at this point of her story where we began our interview.

Peggy: So we sold the business last year. Right around the same time, I got called to work on the Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, which was written by Stephen King, with music by John Mellencamp, and T-Bone Burnett as the music director. I was hired to create the scores by transcribing them off of audio files.

SY: So you did the transcription by listening to the recordings, and creating the notation in Finale. Then did you meet with T-Bone Burnett to see if he was satisfied with your work?

PSJ: I first worked very closely with John’s guitarist, Andy York. Andy has been the lead guitarist in John Mellencamp’s band for over 20 years. He’s the show’s music supervisor and did much of the arranging. Later we all worked together with T-Bone Burnett and with John Mellencamp. They would provide feedback and I would make the changes.

SY: The show sounds fascinating.

PSJ: One of the things that sets the show apart is that it reaches everyone. The vocalists are not singing with a heavy vibrato, they’re singing rock and roll style: It’s something that the average listener can relate to. It’s basically a gothic tale, kind of showing what happens when family issues are not resolved.

We had people coming to the show who were not normal theatre-type people. They were people who really liked Stephen King, and they were people who really liked John Mellencamp and people who were intrigued. I firmly believe that it will open up the doors to a wider audience for musicals.

And the music is so good. I mean, they spent more than ten years working on this show to get it to where it got to last year.

SY: And the show premiered in Atlanta?

PSJ: Yes. It was very, very successful last spring. And now, they are talking with producers about bringing the show to New York.

SY: Would that mean additional work for you or is that book pretty much done?

PSJ: I’m still working on the book. The band basically plays by ear, so they already know their parts, but we’re trying to get all those parts on score.

SY: Let’s talk about your tools. When did you first use Finale?

PSJ: It was when I was in college, probably, oh, many years ago.

SY: Do you remember what version it was?

PSJ: I don’t even remember what version it was. It wasn’t anything like this. It wasn’t near as user-friendly as it is now.

SY: You really wanted to put music on the printed page.

PSJ: I did. My handwriting is not the best, and I thought it would look better if I had it on some kind of format that would be easier to read. And if I made a mistake I didn’t like the idea of having to redo it all again. I converted to computers early on, and I didn’t like the idea of backtracking. If I wanted to change one note I didn’t want to feel like I had to redo the entire page.

SY: We take that for granted today.

PSJ: We do. And I didn’t like really using pencil, either, because it’s hard to see. So I really hooked on to Finale early on. And through the years I’d use it all the time for a variety of projects. Even if I wasn’t asked to create a score, sometimes I’d create one in Finale to have ready access to vocal parts, harmonies, and things like that.

When I worked with high schools on their musicals, I would do all the tracks. I’d get the scores and I would play them all, all the accompaniments. And then I would play all of the vocal parts, and then I would make tracks that help the kids to learn the music quickly, so that we could focus on the show. And the same thing goes with, you know – and I would do all the arranging, because sometimes it was just a couple instruments versus an entire orchestra.

So I would use Finale to do that, too.

I think the other thing that is real important to me, and you’ll see it on my bio, is that I’m very education-oriented. I’ve taught for 20 some odd years and I still teach. And I believe that technology and music education are a great fit. I think if you incorporate technology, you’ll be a better educator.

Some educators are afraid to embrace technology. They still really like the pen to the paper kind of thing, but they don’t realize the benefits they’re missing. Like in Ghost Brothers we change keys all the time. They would come back to me and say, “Let’s change the key.” And it would be just a couple of buttons and that was it. I didn’t have to sit there and redo everything. It was so much easier. I had so much more flexibility. I could change tempos. I could change meters, anything.

SY: Again, all those things we take for granted today.

PSJ: Yes. It just saves you a lot more time so you can just focus on working on the musical part of things.

I couldn’t have said it better myself! I’d like thank Peggy for taking the time to talk with us and for her continued support of Finale.