Brooklyn native Yolanda Johnson started writing at age five, and was surrounded by music, as her father was Columbia Recording artist Samuel Jonathan Johnson. Even bigger were her cousins, the famed Wilson brothers of the Gap Band.
As an adult Yolanda relocated to Los Angeles and began pursuing her musical career. As a writer, she was extremely focused on the lyrical content of her work, as she "took notice of how music affected people, realizing how it makes people reminisce and eases pain; how it uplifts, calms, and heals." She debuted via the limited release EP Sweet Yesterday in 2002, but largely remained a regional artist. Yolanda returned in mid-2006 with the rhythmic first single, "Individual" and the eight-song disc Violet Flower, her first significant release. The album and single took off on the indie soul circuit, with "Individual" being adopted by television network BET-J and Johnson being named the network's "Breakout Artist of the Year." Johnson followed with a limited national tour.
In 2008, Johnson began working on her follow-up album, which she tentatively titled Breathing. Said Johnson, "The title of the album comes from so many places. When I released Violet Flower, I was really holding my breath, hoping that people liked what I had to offer. Luckily and graciously, new fans are drawn to my message everyday and now I can finally breathe a little easier. The theme of the album is also inspired from the overwhelming nature of love. On the one hand, love can make you feel so high and so full of life that you can hardly breathe, like that feeling when someone just sweeps you right off your feet and takes your breath away. On the other hand, love can be so tough that it literally takes your breath away and you find yourself unable to breathe at all."
Breathing was finally released in September 2009 via Johnson's website and iTunes.