The series documents the career development of up-and-coming artists through concert and interview footage. Green and Johnson, both 30, taped three songs apiece, repeating songs once or twice to give editors more options. Both artists will be showcased in the same hour-long episode, airing March 23 on CMT.
Backed by a five-piece band, Johnson performed two of her three hits: “Complicated,” which reached the Top 5 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in October; and “I Don’t Want You to Go,” which sits at No. 29 on the chart dated Feb. 2 and continues to climb. She rounded out her set with “Room With a View,” a touching eulogy to her brother and the title track on her debut album.
“At first I was really nervous,” Johnson told cmt.com after the taping. “I was excited to be there, so it was not just a normal nervousness. It was this extra excitement because I’ve really wanted to be on this show for a long time. I love CMT — I’m not just saying that — and it’s a big part of a career. I’ve watched CMT for years; watching this stuff happen [to me] is exciting, and I wanted it to be perfect.”
Johnson felt honored that CMT tapped her for On the Verge, an endorsement that suggests the cable network believes she is destined for greater success.
“To me, it says something when such a reputable company like CMT — a company that I look to for my entertainment, who I look to for the next stars — chooses me to be in that circle of people,” Johnson said. “I feel like I am on the verge [of stardom], but it just takes so much to make that happen, and this is just another stepping stone. I’m honored to be on the show. I’ve watched every single one of them and I think they’re great shows.”
During interview segments taped earlier in the week, Johnson performed an acoustic version of her breakthrough single, “Georgia,” that may be included in On the Verge.
Johnson grew up on a farm in tiny Deadwood, Alberta, in Canada. Now based in Nashville, she has penned songs for other artists including “Single White Female,” a No. 1 song for Chely Wright in 1999, and “Down Time” for Jo Dee Messina . Johnson toured as Martina McBride ’s backing vocalist and guitarist for about a year. Last summer, she drew high marks with her opening performances on the Girls’ Night Out tour with McBride, Reba McEntire , Sara Evans and Jamie O’Neal .
Johnson released Room With a View in August. The CD debuted at No. 8 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, the highest mark for a new artist on the RCA Label Group family of labels since 1991, when SoundScan started automated counting of album sales.
In September, Johnson earned a record-breaking five trophies at the Canadian Country Music Awards. She was named female artist of the year and Room With a View was named album of the year. She also took the rising star award, and “Complicated” — with lyrics about falling in love with a friend — was named single and song of the year.
Green, who began building a grassroots following a decade ago, also is poised to be one of country music’s next big stars.
Drawing comparisons to freewheeling country rocker Jerry Jeff Walker, Green has become something of a Texas phenomenon in recent years, touring almost nonstop and building an extremely loyal fan base. Green was born in San Antonio, raised in Waco and now is based in Austin. He started playing guitar at 18 and became a regular on the Texas dance hall scene and college club circuit. The energetic showman quickly expanded his reach throughout the South and Southwest.
Since 1995, Green has recorded six CDs including his latest, Three Days, released in October on Republic Records. His first major label release cracked the Top 10 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. “Carry On,” his anthem to good times, recently reached the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
The video for “Carry On” received heavy airplay on CMT and finished first on CMT Most Wanted Live’s daily poll the day after Green’s album was released. “Texas in 1880,” his collaboration with Radney Foster , also clicked with CMT viewers.
For his On the Verge performance, Green decided on “Three Days,” “Carry On” and “We’ve All Got Our Reasons.” When cameras stopped rolling midway through to reposition, he treated 200 or so attendees to a couple more songs. The singer let his band stretch out on the guitar-fueled “Southbound 35,” then invited Lee Roy Parnell on stage to duet with him on the Waylon Jennings ’ 1975 chart-topper “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way.”
“I don’t know if I’m ’on the verge’ of anything,” Green told cmt.com Tuesday, “but I sure appreciate any kind of attention that can bring new listeners to our music. Our band has worked for a very long time to get people to hear and understand what our music is all about. It’s a forum like this that really allows us to do that in a big way.”
On the Verge premiered in 2000 with an installment dedicated to then-newcomers Brad Paisley and Jessica Andrews . The series also has highlighted the rising careers of Keith Urban , Nickel Creek , Jamie O’Neal, Charlie Robison, Cyndi Thomson and Gary Allan .