Cody Johnson is nominated for one CMA Award, for Male Vocalist of the Year. Johnson, who won two CMA Awards last year, shares the category with Luke Combs, Jelly Roll, Chris Stapleton and Morgan Wallen. Although walking away with his third trophy would be nice, the 36-year-old says being nominated really does make him feel like a winner — even if he already has his eye on another prize.
“I think that the pinnacle of the CMA Awards is the Entertainer of the Year,” Johnson said ahead of the CMA Awards. “I’ve always wanted to have that. That’s a goal, an aspiration of mine. But Male Vocalist is a category that is very special to me, because I remember being a little kid, and watching reruns of the past CMA Awards, where Merle Haggard received this award, Glen Campbell.
“In my generation, as a kid growing up, watching people like George Strait or Alan Jackson be included in this category, that’s pretty incredible,” he added. “And especially to be in the company I’m in, my peers that are also nominated, that’s huge.”
Johnson was a rodeo star and a prison guard, but the one constant in his life has always been music.
“I’ve sung my whole life,” Johnson shared. “It’s the only thing I’ve done since I was — literally, before I can remember. I’ve sung since I was two or three years old. I could sing before I could talk. So to be recognized for a gift that God gave me is pretty cool.”‘
“‘The Painter’ is a little bit different song for me,” Johnson said. “It’s not ”Til You Can’t,’ screaming at the top of your lungs, belting out this big heartfelt message. It’s very simple. It’s just a love song from me to my wife … It’s just very simple. My life was black and white and she’s the painter.”
Johnson hints that, thanks to the vision of the CMA Awards Executive Producer, Robert Deaton, his performance will be an unforgettable part of the evening.
“He called and talked to me personally about what his vision was, how to incorporate an image of my wife.in the picture, and have the whole thing kind of paint itself,” Johnson teased. “It really brings to light the metaphor of the lyric, so I was pretty excited about that.”