Cody Johnson Proves Critics Wrong, Achieves Success In Nashville

Terry Wyatt / WireImage via Getty Images

Cody Johnson defied others’ expectations, and is succeeding in the city where he said, “Everyone told me I wouldn’t thrive.”

While numerous aspiring country artists relocated to Nashville in pursuit of their dreams, Cody Johnson took a different route. Instead of frequenting bars in Music City, he remained in his home state of Texas, performing at honky-tonks across the Lone Star State while pursuing a record deal. 

Despite skepticism and discouragement, Johnson proved expectations wrong and achieved success outside the mainstream spotlight.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 27: Cody Johnson performs onstage during the 2023 iHeartRadio Music Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 27, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Cody Johnson performs onstage during the 2023 iHeartRadio Music Awards. Photo: Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic via Getty Images

Johnson, 36, was recently featured on one of Nashville’s major TV events, New Year’s Eve Live: Nashville’s Big Bash on CBS. His performance at Whiskey River Saloon, situated in Nashville’s Broadway area, holds special significance for the Texas native. Every time he takes the stage in Music City, it serves as a poignant reminder of the remarkable journey he has undertaken.

RELATED: “Nashville’s Big Bash” For NYE Was The #1 Country Music Show Of The Year


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Cody Johnson (@codyjohnson)

“I love playing here because, forever, I wasn’t accepted here,” Johnson told PopCulture before his performance. “Being the independent artist or being a guy from Texas, there was always this stigma about, ‘You’re not ever going to make it in Nashville.’ And here we are, with so many friends, so many business relationships, and such a growing career, in the town that everybody told me I’d never thrive in.”

It was a new and exciting experience for “The Painter” singer who, at that time, had never performed on Lower Broadway throughout his career.

“And so things like this, getting to sit and play on Broadway, I wasn’t the guy that moved from Kentucky to Nashville and played on Broadway until I got a record deal. I was the guy that was playing Texas honky tonks. So I don’t know anything about the strip down here in Tennessee. I’m looking forward to playing. This is going to be fun.”

Even though Cody Johnson has come a long way from his Texas honky-tonk days, he’s not done growing.

Talking about his plans for 2024 during the New Year’s special, he made it clear he’s aiming to reach even more people. It’s not just about 2024; he’s looking ahead to 2025 too.

“Professionally in 2024, I’m looking forward to kind of teeing up what we’re going to do in 2025,” Johnson said. “We’ve got the deluxe edition of our album, Leather, coming out in 2024. There’s going to be a lot of new music, a lot of streaming, a lot of new fans. We have a lot of new opportunities because of that record and because of Warner Nashville’s hard work that they’ve put into it. 

RELATED: Cody Johnson Releases Highly Anticipated New Album, “Leather”

“We’re going to Canada, we’re going to Brazil, which is going to kind of tee up ’25, going to the U.K., going to Australia, and doing these things that, kind of following in the Luke Combs footsteps, honestly…Really taking this career that I’ve worked so hard for, to the next level.”

The upcoming “Leather Tour” in 2024 will feature Cody Johnson’s first headlining performance at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on February 2.

Listen to the title track for Leather below.