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CMT ARTISTS OF THE YEAR: (WATCH) Cody Johnson’s Powerful Performance of “Human” Shows Fans His Personal Growth

Cody Johnson says he’s always looked up to Alan Jackson, admires how he’s never tried to be something he isn’t.

Cody Johnson was more excited to see Alan Jackson perform at the 2022 CMT Artists of the Year event than he was to play himself. Johnson, a 2022 CMT Artist of the Year honoree, 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. Thursday, he picked up three nominations from the American Music Awards. 

And he did it by spending his career watching Jackson.

"I've always looked up to Alan Jackson because Alan Jackson is Alan Jackson," Johnson said before the show. "There's no grey area in what he is. I've kinda wanted to pattern myself after that. I would rather be known for nothing than be known for something I'm not."

Johnson released "Human: The Double Album" about 12 months ago, and he performed the title track "Human" during the 2022 CMT Artists of the Year celebration. The 35-year-old Texas cowboy ambled onto the stage in his jeans, button-down shirt and white cowboy hat with his acoustic guitar in hand. He perched on a stool in the spotlight and, in his gravely, deeply country drawl, started to sing about all the ways he's learning to be a better man.

Lyrics include: 

So far I've been good at burning bridges

Strike a match and ride right out of town

Bless your heart for never trying to fix me

Or quit me, or slow me down

"'Human' describes me," he said. "There's a lot of wonderful songs on the album, but 'Human' is the only one that if you listen to that and watch the video, you know exactly who I am and what I stand for. I just think it's important before anything else big happens, I want people to know exactly who I am. That song says it all."

Johnson is poised for plenty of mountaintop moments soon. He's nominated for four trophies at the CMA Awards and just earned three nods from the American Music Awards. Both shows are in November.

The video montage that played during Johnson's presentation included clips of his acceptance speech at the CMT Music Awards earlier this year, where he won two categories. He also talked about his journey from being a correctional officer to the country music spotlight and his dedication to doing it his way.

"I'm glad we did it the long way," he said. "To see success with it now, man, I finally did it."

When he took the stage to accept his trophy, Johnson spoke from his heart, not from a prepared speech.

"For all of the kids at home watching, success is hard work and preparation meets opportunity. Country music has given me an opportunity to be successful here tonight, and I want to thank everyone here tonight. I believe in country music. As long as I have a voice. As long as I have a bit of energy in my body, you're going to get every bit of it towards country music."

An immediate encore showing will follow at 11p/10c (Oct. 14) and on Sunday, October 16, at 8p/7c.

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