Cowboys have always been a fixture in country music, but it seems that a lot of the guys that sing about ropin' and ridin' are mostly in it for the aesthetic.
However, in the case of Cody Johnson, he walks the walk and talks the talk. Knowing the cowboy life well, it permeates much of the music he makes.
A lifelong resident of Texas and a longtime admirer of the specific brand of country music that gets funneled out of the Lonestar State, Johnson's ride to country stardom has been a long and winding one.
First dipping his toes into the artist waters in 2006, it took well over the traditional 10-year tenure for him to find his footing in the mainstream. Since landing a deal with Warner Music Nashville in 2019, though, it's been off to the races for the artist lovingly known as CoJo.
With eight records under his belt – 6 of which came independently – and his most recent Leather album making landfall in November 2023, Johnson has become one of the faces of Texas country music in recent years.
Securing his first No. 1 at country radio in 2021 with the compelling carpe diem ballad, ''Til You Can't', Johnson has cemented himself as a leading figure in the traditional country movement that's been sweeping the genre.
Writing and singing about what he knows and his authentic cowboy lifestyle, CoJo has been garnering a growing army of fans over the last several years on his sold-out tours around the world, as well as earning his fair share of awards, accolades and much-deserved acclaim along the way.
To help bring a little clarity, background and context to our Texas troubadour, we've compiled answers to some of the most widely asked questions about Cody Johnson.
Cody Johnson was born and grew up in Sebastopol, Texas, which is located in Trinity County.
According to the Handbook of Texas in 2000, the community had a population of 120. However, we're pretty sure CoJo put the town on the map in the last few years.
Johnson measures up to about 6 feet tall, putting him above the U.S. average for men, which is roughly 5ft 9in.
This checks out since he's pretty above average across the board when it comes to his musical career.
Cody Johnson was born on May 21, 1987. This puts our roping and riding Gemini at 36 years old.
Cody Johnson is married to his longtime sweetheart, Brandi. Together, they have two daughters – Clara Mae and Cori.
The lovebirds met long before Johnson found country music success. In fact, Brandi is the one who ultimately pushed him to quit his day job and pursue a career as an artist.
Brandi first saw Cody performing onstage at an event for Future Farmers of America in Texas when she was 14 years old and he was 17. Four years later, the pair were at the same bar and crossed paths. He asked for her phone number, and just a month later, they moved in together.
The Johnson's got engaged a year later with their wedding taking place the year after. Cody and Brandi typically keep their relationship and family life private as far as social media goes, but an occasional family photo pops up every now and then.
Cody and his family are proud residents of East Texas on their own private ranch. When Johnson’s not out on the road, he mainly focuses on his wife, kids, ranch and competitive team roping.
Over the years, Johnson has reportedly instilled quite the ranch-hand mindset in his two daughters, teaching them to feed the cows and take care of their many animals as they balance their home schooling responsibilities.
If you listen to a handful of Cody Johnson's songs, it won't take you long to realize that he sings a whole lot about being a cowboy - but he spent years earning his stripes to do so.
Though Johnson began playing music at age 12, he quickly became interested in bull riding, too.
At age 15, he rode his first bull and soon decided to pursue it professionally. He spent a handful of years competing in the rodeo before taking on a job as a prison supervisor alongside his father, and then eventually left to chase his neon-tinged country music dreams.
During his cowboy career, he broke several bones, including his ankle, clavicle and multiple ribs.
While it's becoming more commonplace for artists to gain recognition and acclaim on singing competitions like The Voice and American Idol, Cody Johnson did things the old fashioned way.
He first began playing music at age 12, performing in his local church, at school and around the local bar scene.
In 2006, he formed the Cody Johnson Band with his dad, Carl, and drummer Nathan Reedy, recording an album titled Black and White Label. Shortly after, they added a lead guitarist and recorded a live album, Live and Rocking, before Johnson's father quit the band.
Adding a bass guitarist, their first professionally produced album came in September 2009 with three singles from the record reaching the top 10 of the Texas music charts. Adding a fiddle player, Johnson's next album was produced by Trent Willmon and released in 2011, which helped him secure the Texas Regional Music Award for New Male Vocalist of the Year.
Following his aforementioned foray into bull riding and his brief tenure working in a prison, he decided to pursue music full-time. By 2012, he'd made this career change and the band changed their name to the Rockin' CJB.
After a handful of independently released albums, several entries on the Billboard charts and making Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo history by becoming the first unsigned artist to play to a sold-out crowd in March 2018, he signed with Warner Music Nashville and released his seventh album, Ain't Nothin' to It, which includes the single 'On My Way to You'.
The rest, as they say, is history!
Johnson has a pretty hefty catalogue under his belt, which makes sense considering his artist career dates all the way back to 2006. His style can be described as contemporary and neo-traditionalist country, drawing influences from the likes of George Strait and Willie Nelson.
Among the projects in his repertoire are six self-released albums, including Gotta Be Me, which debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Country Albums chart. His major-label debut came in January of 2019 with Ain't Nothin' to It, and his second major-label album, Human: The Double Album, arrived in October 2021. His next project, Leather, is set for release on November 3, 2023.
Johnson mostly writes his own songs, as well as a few songs for other artists, too. However, the Texas troubadour isn't opposed to cutting outside songs, as well, including his celebrated anthem, ''Til You Can't', which was written by Ben Stennis and Matt Rogers.
''Til You Can't' is undoubtedly Johnson's biggest and most popular song to date, but other notable CoJo tunes include 'Diamond In My Pocket', 'On My Way To You', 'Dear Rodeo', 'Wild As You', 'Me and My Kind', 'The Painter' and 'Human'.
Nominated alongside heavy hitters like Maren Morris’ ‘Circles Around This Town’, Miranda Lambert's ‘If I Was A Cowboy’, Willie Nelson's ‘I'll Love You Til the Day I Die’ and Taylor Swift's ‘I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor's Version)’, Johnson's country ballad was considered a dark horse to win.
When he won, many championed the achievement as a widespread victory for traditional country music.
Aside from the prestigious Grammy, Johnson has also earned CMT Music Award trophies for Male Video of the Year (''Til You Can't'), CMT Digital-First Performance of the Year ('Dear Rodeo') and CMT Performance of the Year (''Til You Can't' from 2022 CMT Music Awards).
The Texas entertainer has also nabbed two CMA Awards for ''Til You Can't', Music Video of the Year and Single of the Year.
Johnson has been busy touring throughout 2023 on his Cody Johnson & Friends Tour, which has taken him around the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. Along the way, he's been supported by the likes of Lauren Alaina, Jake Worthington, Ian Munsick, Easton Corbin, Drew Parker, Ashland Craft, Randy House and more.
In 2024, Johnson will be hitting the road on his Leather Tour, rolling through California, Arizona, Tennessee, Kansas, Arkansas, Florida and more. On the new trek, he's enlisted the likes of Justin Moore, Chris Janson and Dillon Carmichael to warm up the stage each night.
For all the details regarding Johnson's touring endeavors, head here.
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Featured photo by Laura Ord.