Cody Johnson’s career has catapulted to new heights throughout the past year thanks to the success of his chart-topping smash, “‘Til You Can’t” and his 2021 release, Human: The Double Album. Johnson is on top of his game, so it’s no surprise that he was selected as one of the five CMT Artists of the Year for 2022.
Johnson, a first-time CMT Artists of the Year honoree, has been working hard for years to build his fan base and make his way to the top of the charts. Even when things got tough, the former bull rider never once gave up on himself.
“There was a huge stigma when I came to Nashville — a real cowboy, a guy from Texas, a guy that plays traditional country music,” Johnson told People ahead of the show. “It was not popular for a long time, but I thought, if I can do this, if I can be myself, we all know that the pendulum swings. If I can wait this out long enough and still be relevant, maybe I can build a bridge.”
Now, he’s selling out shows across the country and dominating the charts. When it was time to accept the award, which was presented to him by his labelmates’ duo Dan + Shay, Johnson admitted he had “no clue” what he was going to say but he gave it his best shot.
“I will say the success, for all the kids at home watching, success is when hard work and preparation meets opportunity, and country music has given me an opportunity to be successful here tonight and I want to thank everyone here,” the 35-year-old father of two said.
He shared his gratitude for his manager, his band and his wife, Brandi.
“My wife has stood beside me for over 14 years through the thick and the thin and babe this is for me and you,” he sweetly declared.
Johnson closed his speech with a message about the genre he loves so much.
“I believe in country music. I believe in what I grew up on. And as long as I have a voice, as long as I have a bit of energy left in my body, you’re going to get every bit of it towards country music,” he promised. “I want to say thank you, thank you to the fans, thank you to CMT, thank you to country radio for giving us such a big hit ‘‘Til You Can’t.’… God bless each and every one of you, thank you so much for this opportunity, I’m very humbled and honored. Long live real country music! God bless you.”
— CMT (@CMT) October 15, 2022
For his performance, the Texas native opted to sing his latest single, “Human.”
“I think everybody thought we were gonna do ”Til You Can’t,'” Johnson told People on the red carpet. “But I just thought, you know what? ‘Human’ is an autobiographical song. That’s who I am. It’s who Brandi and I are — all those times that she never tried to quit me or fix me or slow me down. There’s a lot about that song that is me. So, I thought, what better way to introduce myself to the world?”
The 2022 CMT Artists Of The Year celebrated the success Carly Pearce, Kane Brown, Cody Johnson, Luke Combs and Walker Hayes have seen throughout the past year.
Alan Jackson was honored as the CMT Artist Of A Lifetime. The prestigious honor, presented by Ram Trucks, was previously awarded to Randy Travis (2021), Reba McEntire (2019), Loretta Lynn (2018), Shania Twain (2016), Kenny Rogers (2015) and Merle Haggard (2014).
Lainey Wilson was named the 2022 CMT Breakout Artist Of The Year. Wilson is the fifth recipient of the award, following Mickey Guyton (2021), Ashley McBryde (2019), Kelsea Ballerini (2016), and Chris Stapleton (2015).
The 90-minute concert event featured performances from Jackson, Pearce, Johnson, Brown and Wilson. Hayes joined forces with Ciara for a never-before-seen performance of their “Y’all Life” remix. Riley Green also took the stage to honor Luke Combs.
A heartwarming tribute to the late Loretta Lynn, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 90, also took place during the star-studded event when her sisters, Crystal Gayle and Peggy Sue Wright, performed in her honor.
In addition to a star-studded list of performances, the show also included presenters: Chris Stapleton, Dan + Shay, Dustin Lynch, Rascal Flatts’ frontman Gary LeVox, Kelsea Ballerini, Yellowstone’s Kelsey Asbille, and Shane McAnally.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. appeared remotely from his annual Dale Jr. Foundation charity event in North Carolina to present Combs with his 2022 CMT Artists Of The Year award.
The 2022 CMT Artists Of The Year premiered on Friday, October 14 at 9/8c on CMT.