Last night in Tamworth NSW, Australia’s spiritual home of country music, a boyhood dream was realised. The Wingham born, now Queensland based James Johnston took home two Golden Guitar Awards for New Talent of the Year and Vocal Collaboration of the Year for ‘SAME SONGS’, a duet with Kaylee Bell.
“I’m just so blown away to have won a golden guitar, let alone two”, Johnston said after the win. “So many of my heroes have stood on that stage to receive this award and to now have two of my own is pretty special!”
It’s an incredible result for Johnston who released his ARIA Gold selling debut single ‘RAISED LIKE THAT’ in 2021 and has now amassed 32 million streams across his single releases making him one of the most popular and exciting new artists on the Australian music landscape right now. But what seems like an overnight success for James Johnston is only telling part of his journey.
James spent his early years hopping from farm-to-farm with his dad, selling and servicing tractors. With hours spent on the road travelling, James was introduced to great artists like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Garth Brooks and at just four years of age, James hit the stage for the very first time, performing ‘Friends in Low Places’ in front of his kindergarten class. From that moment on James’s future was set, he was a born performer.
Throughout his teens, James and his family would spend most weekends travelling and performing on any stage that would take him. In 2008, James graduated from high school, bought a van and set out on the great Australian road trip, playing every little town and every pub he could find. Opportunities with Australian Idol and The X Factor came his way, giving Johnston valuable experience and further shaping him as an artist and performer.
After a few years of living show-to-show, James needed inspiration and what better place to find it than where the soundtrack of his youth came from, Nashville Tennessee. It was this experience which changed him forever. James didn’t realise it at the time but for all the gigs he’d played, all the roads he’d travelled and all the people he’d met, the experiences were stored inside him. In Nashville, they poured out as songs. 300 songs in fact. James finally found his voice as a songwriter.
Since his debut release of ‘RAISED LIKE THAT’ Johnston has had another three #1 country radio songs with ‘SMALL TOWN’, ‘COUNTRY BOYS’ and ‘SAME SONGS’. The fruits of James’ labour have well and truly paid off. His ever growing legion of fans have been connecting to his authenticity as a songwriter as well as his road-hardened electric performances such as his show stealing sets at CMC Rocks Queensland and Savannah in The Round in 2022.
It was a very proud James Johnston who took to the stage last Wednesday at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment and Conference Centre for his first ever a sold out headline performance, the largest ticketed show at the festival.
But of course, Johnston is only just getting started! 2023 will be a big year for the artist starting with his new single ‘GOT IT GOOD’ released this Thursday 26th January. The anticipation has reach fever pitch ever since Johnston started previewing the song on New Year’s Day. With thousands of pre-saves for ths single already, ‘GOT IT GOOD’ is set to be James’ biggest release yet.
When asked what’s install for 2023, Johnston said: “This year I’m excited to release a lot more music and get out and bring my show to the people. That has always been my passion, getting out across the country to play shows and meeting the people that have been on this ride with me. 2023 has certainly kicked off in a big way!”