Jazz Musician Becomes a Renaissance Man

Stacy M. Brown | 2/6/2013, 1:26 p.m.

"People like Warren Thompson of Thompson Hospitality and Bob Johnson of BET, don't rest on their laurels, they go out and become 10 times better than they need to be."

The key to his placement in Walmart turned out to be a chance meeting with one of the chain's District representatives while Johnson performed on a cruise ship.

"On the cruise, I spoke to the audience about how excited we were to have our wine in Costco and other places and this woman approached me and said that I didn't mention that I'd be appearing in her store, which was Walmart," Johnson said. "She was manager of distribution with 94 stores and $10 billion in revenue and she took my card and we talked and, during the conversation, she told me she had already sent an email to a guy at Walmart in D.C."

Walmart has changed the destiny of Flo, Johnson said, adding his experience has been nothing short of incredible.

In a statement on Walmart's Supplier Diversity Program, the company has pledged to use its global size and scale to empower minority and women-owned businesses across the chain.

"Walmart's Supplier Diversity Program began in 1994 to ensure minority- and women-owned businesses are an integral part of our supplier network. Our goal is to increase the amount of business we do with minority- and women-owned businesses, to integrate supplier diversity into all of our procurement practices and to ensure Walmart has a diverse supplier community that can supply products that meet our customers' needs," according to the company's statement.

Walmart reports that more than 3,000 women- and minority-owned businesses play an integral role in the store's network of suppliers.

"It is important to understand that a company like Walmart isn't, 'just going to call you up out of the blue,'" Johnson said. "You have to make it happen."

The musician plans an "UnValentine" social event and performance at Takoma Station Tavern on Feb. 14 and a traditional Valentine's show on the 15th at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Northwest. At each venue, Johnson plans to bring his wines.

"Come and hang out and hopefully fall in love," he said. "If you're not with someone, well you can fall in love with yourself and there's nothing wrong with that."