Home FeaturesArtist Of The Week Artist of the Week: James Johnston

Artist of the Week: James Johnston

by Mallory Arbour
James Johnston

CountryTown in partnership with iHeartCountry Australia is proud to announce James Johnston as our Artist Of The Week, following the release of his new single, Small Town.

Growing up in the small town of Wingham on the Mid North Coast of NSW, James spent his early years hopping from farm-to-farm with his dad, selling and servicing tractors. With hours spent on the road travelling, he was introduced to great artists like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Garth Brooks. 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 and begin busking on the streets of Tamworth.

He competed on season 7 of Australian Idol, where he placed third in 2009. Auditioning with John Mayer’s Your Body Is A Wonderland, and later singing songs by artists like Pink, Fall Out Boy, Rob Thomas, Huey Lewis, The Fray and Kings Of Leon, he stated his style of music was acoustic rock.

He played in various bands (including the duo, Stomp) and released original music before appearing on The X Factor in 2014. Following his exit from the reality television music competition show, he went to Nashville, Tennessee, where his flame was once again reignited for country music. Read more in our in-depth interview here. Having written 300-400 songs country songs between Australia and Nashville, James knew it was finally time to get music out there.

He released his debut single, Raised Like That earlier this year. The track, which tells the story of community, integrity, and a celebration to a way of life of people who grew up in a small close nit community, quickly took off connecting with audiences around the world, becoming the fastest single by an Australian based country artist to hit 1 million streams. To date, it has over 5 million streams. The song also reached the top of on the Countrytown Music Network Hot 50 Country Airplay Chart, dethroning the juggernaut: Morgan Evan’s Love Is Real after its ninth consecutive week at number one.

His follow-up single, Small Town (produced by Justin Wantz in Nashville) is a song of yearning: to return to his roots, away from the bright lights of the city skyline to the endless starlight of the bush. The music video, produced by Elijah Cavanagh of Cavanagh Films, was shot on the outskirts of Gatton in Queensland, to capture the simple pleasure of a country bonfire party.

James says, “I wrote Small Town on the drive back home to my hometown of Wingham. I had been spending quite some time in the city and I was just so excited to get back to my family farm. I wanted to capture that feeling of excitement and anticipation in the song – that build up as I was on that drive to get back home.”


Keep up to date with James Johnston on his Facebook page here.

For more Artist Of The Week features, including James Johnston, check out here.

Image: Supplied

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