Cody Johnson, 29, has finally made it. After self-releasing six albums, and selling half a million headlining concert tickets in the last two years, Cody gained the recognition he deserved when he beat the first-week numbers of acts like Martina McBride the week of Aug. 15th with his new album, Gotta Be Me. “It’s been surreal lately,” Johnson told PEOPLE. “I couldn’t be any happier.” And we couldn’t be any happier for you Cody! Now, let’s get to know you a little better.
1. Major labels are all over this guy.
“We’ve been approached by two or three labels,” he told PEOPLE. “Some of the deals were very good, but the thing is, I went so long without any attention, I thought, ‘I’m never going to be a guy who will get to go to Nashville and get a label offer.’ So I thought if I wanted it to work, I had to make it work on my own. I’m not saying I’m better or that I can do it without them, but right now we happen to be doing it on our own and I’m proud of that.” Whoa, what a brave move Cody!
2. He is a fan of the greats.
“I was influenced by George Strait and Garth Brooks and Chris LeDoux and Merle Haggard, but I love all of it. People talk all kinds of trash about today’s artists. I’m not one of those guys. I’m just happy to be at the dance.” How sweet of him to appreciate the old, and new, legends in his genre.
3. He was a prison guard.
Cody followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a prison guard in Huntsville, Texas when he was 18 years old. “Eventually I wound up on horseback watching the chain gang out on the field. There’s pain and sorrow in prison – that’s one of the things that made Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard so great, they sung about these men – but they also want to hear about joy and happiness. People in prison, people in offices, people in an oilfield somewhere, people stuck somewhere they don’t want to be, music can take them to a different place. I still remember that every night performing.”
4. He can handle a bucking bronco.
Cody started riding bulls when he was still a high schooler, “pretty much on a dare.” “The first time, I got the snot knocked out of me. But the adrenaline rush is something I never found again. I was addicted from that point on.” The singer attempted to join the rodeo, despite having broken several bones while riding. “The getting hurt part didn’t bother me. It was the not being good enough. I saw the writing on the wall.” Aw, well at least you DID quit that day job to pursue your real dream.
5. He has worked really, really hard to get to where he is today.
“Whenever I wouldn’t make enough money at the rodeo– which was a lot of the time – I’d sit on my tailgate afterward and play my guitar and sell CDs I had recorded myself for $5 a pop.” One day, someone told Cody that he reminded them of Chris LeDoux, a former rodeo rider who became a country music singer. “When I figured out who he was, I thought, ‘Someone did this before me. I can do this.’ And it went from there.” The rest is history!
HollywoodLifers, now that you know more about Cody, what do you think of him? Let us know below!