New Artist Spotlight: Cody Johnson

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Credit: Cody Johnson/YouTube

Saddle up ya’ll… It’s time for another New Artist Spotlight. And this time we head to The Lone Star State and introduce you to Cody Johnson. Had it not been for a few mean rodeo bulls, he might still be living that eight-second lifestyle.

So, you thought ‘real’ country music was dead? Cody Johnson begs to differ. The Sebastapol, Texas native may not technically be a ‘new artist’ but he is getting noticed and radio play nationwide with his latest hit ‘On My Way to You’.

He has released 6 previous albums, all under his own CoJo label- quite comperable to what fellow-Texas Aaron Watson did last year. Spend a few years as your own independent label. Wait for a major Nashville label to say they like your sound and style and want you to continue to do what you do, but they will give you the financial means and exposure to get to the next level. Warner Music Nashville enticed Johnson – who’d turned down several major labels before Warner– to join the team and take a shot at turning a concert success story into one with  national hit-making credibility. That’s what got Johnson to sign with Warner Music Nashville. And we as country music fans get to reap the rewards.

Johnson’s introductory Warner album, ‘Ain’t Nothin’ to It’, is a very different path for CoJo. After writing much of his previous material, he let writers in Nashville know that he was open to songs written by other writers… Cody didn’t fathom that sonwriters the likes of  Chris Stapleton and Brothers Osborne guitarist John Osborne would offer up songs they had a hand in penning.

The 31 year-old learned drums and guitar and started writing songs while in junior high. A teacher encouraged Johnson to form a band, and they finished first runner-up in a Texas State FFA talent contest.

Broken bones and the cost of rodeo competition took their toll, and he eventually ditched life as a bull rider who played music on his off days to become a prison guard in Huntsville, Texas who played clubs on the weekends. In 2011 he snagged the Texas Regional Radio Music Award as Male Vocalist of the Year. That year, his wife Brandi floored him when she agreed he should go after music as a full-time gig. In 2018, Johnson won Texas Regional Radio’s Male Vocalist again.

“There’s that rodeo competitor in the back of my head that says, ‘I don’t want to ride a bull, I want to be a world champion bull rider,’” Johnson says. “All my heroes have taken this step, and I’ve been given the opportunity with Warner to take this step on my own terms with a huge monster behind the machine that I’ve created. It doesn’t get any better than that.


Johnson’s first album with Warner Nashville ‘Ain’t Nothin’ To It’ is available on Friday, January 18th and it has a track that pays homage to his first love. It’s called ‘Dear Rodeo’ and it’s my personal fav on his new album.

Cody Johnson is ready to saddle up and hold on for what is sure to be longer than 8 seconds.