Cody Johnson is as authentic as they come. The Texan just released Leather, 12 songs that help seal his place in country music, a genre he is proud to be a part of, and vows to honor with all of his music.
“Throughout my career, I haven’t let what the format was putting on the radio cloud my vision for the genre,” Johnson tells The Tennessean. “Now that I have a chance to guide the direction of country music’s mainstream future, there will be cowboy hats, value-driven story songs and the inspirations of Brooks & Dunn, Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard, George Jones and Reba McEntire involved.”
Johnson is currently enjoying a Top 25 hit with “The Painter,” a song that pays tribute to his wife, Brandi. who has been steadfast and unwavering in her support for him and his career, even when it gets difficult. Johnson, fortunately, isn’t afraid of hard work, determined to leave his own mark in a genre he deeply loves.
“Everything in my life is a pressure worth handling and if I can get past it all, I’ll be here to stay,” predicts the singer.
Leather will have a second part next year, one that will hopefully include his long-awaited duet with Carrie Underwood. But for now, it’s the dozen tracks on the first part that Johnson is happily leaning into.
“This is exactly the record I wanted to release at this moment in my career and life,” Johnson maintains.
In an era when artists work hard to have the most mainstream success, the 36-year-old is only swayed by the music he likes, and — refreshingly — little else.
“I’m at a point where I’m mature enough, and I’m far enough along in my career where I’m going to go eff it, for lack of a better term,” Johnson said when Leather was released. “I’m going to put out what I want to put out. If it’s too country for somebody, then maybe they’ll come around once the pendulum swings. But I’m starting to see authenticity make a comeback in our genre.”
Johnson was recently nominated for a CMA Award, for Male Vocalist of the Year. Although the trophy went to Chris Stapleton instead, for Johnson, being in the category with so many other talented singers already made him feel like a winner.
“I think that the pinnacle of the CMA Awards is the Entertainer of the Year,” Johnson said. “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 will embark on his The Leather Tour on January 19 in Sacramento, California. Find music and tour dates at CodyJohnsonMusic.com.