Music

The New Texas: Cody Johnson

Cody Johnson arrives at the 54th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 7, 2019, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

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Yes, cowboys still make country music, and Texan Cody Johnson is going to show you how it's done.

But this ain't singin' by the campfire country, this is the pack-the-dancehall-to-the-seams kind of country.

Johnson, 33, was been active in the Texas scene for a while before his talents caught the ears of tastemakers and fans in Nashville and beyond.

He's developed a brand of country that blends the polish of the mainstream with the traditional spirit of Texas, and it works. Plus, Johnson pours everything he's got into each performance, and that's what it takes to make a lasting impression in Texas.

Part of what makes Johnson's music resonate with Texans so much is that he's authentically country. Johnson grew up in the small East Texas town of Sebastopol. He hunts, fishes and shoots guns. Before he became a country singer, he worked for years as a competitive bull rider, and even did a stint as a correctional officer at a prison in Johnson City. His background rings true in his music.

Start with Johnson's 2013 album, Cowboy Like Me. If you're a fan of George Strait, Chris LeDoux and other neo-traditional artists who embody the cowboy style, you're going to love Cody Johnson. Additional albums of note include his self-released No. 2 album from 2016 Gotta Be Me and Ain't Nothing to It, Johnson's 2019 major label debut for Warner Brothers Nashville. The latter further established Johnson's classic country credentials with covers of the Charlie Daniels Band's "Long Haired Country Boy" and, as a live bonus track, Roger Miller's "Husbands and Wives."

What he sounds like: Contemporary cowboy country that can both fill a dance floor and make you crank up the radio.

Key Track: "Me and My Kind", an oldie but goodie about an ex girlfriend who can't deal with his cowboy ways. 

This article was originally published in 2016. It was updated in June of 2020.

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The New Texas: Cody Johnson