CMT Artists of the Year: Cody Johnson Says Success Means He Doesn't Have to Compromise

2022 CMT ARTISTS OF THE YEAR will debut 9p/8c Friday, October 14, on CMT.

Cody Johnson's "Human: The Double Album" turns 1 year old on Oct. 8, as does his documentary "Dear Rodeo: The Cody Johnson Story." In that time, the Texas native who hangs his hat on high-energy traditional country music charted his first No. 1 song, "Til You Can't," and saw it go double platinum. He headlined a Nashville-area amphitheater, won two CMT Music Awards, picked up four CMA nominations and increased his streams by more than 1 billion in the first 10 months of 2022. 

Johnson will be honored alongside Kane Brown, Carly Pearce, Luke Combs, Walker Hayes, Lainey Wilson and Alan Jackson at the 2022 CMT ARTISTS OF THE YEAR event that will debut 9p/8c Friday, October 14, on CMT.

"We've talked for years about the pendulum swinging, and it's nice to know that I don't have to worry about compromise anymore," he says. "I can be comfortable now to say, 'This is who I am. You guys know me by now.' I'm not trying to prove anything anymore."

Johnson is a married father of two daughters who lives on a ranch in Texas. He can't put his finger on one professional achievement that is a highlight. Johnson is dedicated to his family and trying not to drink his own Kool-Aid. 

"I mean, personally, I have been really focused on home life, like really focused at the ranch and not putting your head in the clouds too much," he says. "It's been really awesome because I've been able to turn everything off and just kind of like be like more normal than I've ever been. Well, I'm more normal than I've gotten to be in the last decade and kind of have like my own personal life."

He's proud of the way he and his team figured out a way for him to manage his career and his family without either suffering. 

"That is what provides for my wife and kids and myself and everybody that works for our organization," Johnson says of his music. "And it is what I love to do. But, like, if I don't unplug and just kind of get to be the guy who's not on stage, the guy on stage is not as good at what he does, that make sense?"

When Johnson released "Human: The Double Album" last year, he believed in the record from a creative space but didn't have many commercial expectations. Then the collection spawned the most successful year of his career.

Johnson was also invited to sing for Vince Gill on CMT Giants: Vince Gill. It was among the first times Johnson had been asked to participate in such a show. He credits Gill with giving him the faith to try country music as a career, and the offer was so meaningful to him that he flew in from Minneapolis to sing "When I Can Call Your Name" for Gill on the television special and then flew back out to resume his tour. 

"I've worked for 15 years to get the opportunity to get those phone calls," he says. "So you have to, in the words of an old farmer, you have to make hay while the sun shines."

There are other things Johnson looks forward to as well. He says he can't say what it is, but he has something "incredible" planned with Luke Combs next year. And there are particular venues that he's always wanted to play that are still on his bucket list. 

"Ever since I first started playing music in bars and honky tonks, I've always wanted to play Madison Square Garden," he says. "I want to be that new face and new sound and establish songs and stories back in country music the way it used to sound. It's been really hard, but it's gone really well."

Johnson says he honestly feels like "it's just getting started."

"And that's the scary part," he says.

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