This week, WXPN announced the four finalists of our first ever 24 Hour Song Challenge, and as we approach the Grand Prize Winner reveal, we’ll bring you spotlights on the four artists who got this far. Today, we meet Mackenzie Johnson, a Bucks County native and solo artist with 15 years experience. Her wistful approach to our “Summertime” theme stood out from the crowd; give her soulful “Sunburn” a watch and learn more about Johnson below.

Mackenzie Johnson - Sunburn (WXPN 24-Hour Song Challenge)

What’s your hometown? Where are you currently based?

My hometown is Newtown in Bucks County, PA. I’m currently based there but relocating to NYC soon.

How long have you been performing? Are you primarily a solo artist, do you play in any bands?

I’ve been performing professionally for about 15 years and typically perform solo acoustic.

What inspired you to interpret the prompt “Summertime” the way you did?

I imagined most folks would take the happier approach to the prompt and write about basking in the beginning of the season, so I decided to fast forward to the final moments of summer and how it feels to grieve it instead. Melancholy I know, but I tend to delve into the sadder side of things when I write. The brevity of summer is so bittersweet and I wanted to make sure I captured the essence of that with “Sunburn.”

Can you tell us about your process? Are you lyrics-first, hook-first, etc?

I tend to be an everything at once kind of a songwriter – the lyrics and melody marry the moment I start strumming my guitar. Occasionally I’ll write the hook before everything else, but most of the time I write a song from top to bottom, verse 1 right on through to the end.

Are you playing live anywhere this summer that our audience can see you?

I’m playing Milkboy on August 3rd, The Fire on August 4th, and Brooklyn Music Kitchen on August 13th.