NSW Mid North Coast musician James Johnston leads 2023 Golden Guitar Awards nominations

James Johnston is leading the pack for country music gongs with six nominations for the 51st Golden Guitar Awards.


James Johnston is leading the pack for country music gongs with six nominations for the 51st Golden Guitar Awards.

It is the first time the musician, who hails from Wingham, on the NSW Mid North Coast has been nominated for the prestigious country music awards. 

“I am still buzzing,” he said. 

He is up for the Male Artist of the Year, New Talent of the Year and Song of the Year, among other categories. 

He said he found out this morning in a very unglamorous way.

“I was watching the live stream while making breakfast with my kids,” he said. 

He told ABC Radio he had been singing since he was four years old, and had been busking since he was six. 

“For me, country music was such a big part of up my upbringing,” he said. 

He shared his first song 18 months ago, and his career has taken off. 

“Only when COVID hit, I really kind of decided that I wanted to bunker down and start telling my story,” he said. 

Country music star Fanny Lumsden described the singer as a “sensation” while announcing the nominations on Tuesday.

Johnston said his single Small Town, which is up for Song of the Year, Single of the Year and Video of the Year, was written on the side of the road. 

“I was leaving Brisbane and I was travelling back to the family farm and I just was so excited. It had been a little while, this was during COVID.

“I wanted this to be a celebration of small communities and kind of what they represent and what they mean and just kind of getting back to your roots,” he said.

Country music legend Troy Cassar-Daley received eight nominations last year, but has not released any new music in the last year. 

But the list of nominees was not without big names. 

Adam Brand, Amber Lawrence and Casey Barnes picked up five nominations each.