The incredible accolades and numbers just keep racking up for Texas country music artist Cody Johnson. After hitting #1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart with his recent album Ain’t Nothin To It, he rolled into Houston’s NRG Stadium on Friday night (3-15) for a performance on the star-shaped stage at the center of the building for a crowd of 73,009 that had assembled to see the native Texas singer from nearby Huntsville perform. This was one of the biggest crowds so far this Rodeo Houston season, and puts him past many of the massive mainstream stars who played the Rodeo this year.
How does the Cody Johnson attendance stack up? Luke Bryan who played the Rodeo on February 28th drew 67,115, or nearly 6,000 less people than Cody. Tim McGraw drew 66,491, or over 6,500 less people than Cody. Zac Brown Band drew 69,570, or nearly 3,500 less people. Cody Johnson also just barely beat Chris Stapleton, who also drew impressive numbers, beating out most of the competition with a crowd of 72,011. The only country artist to beat Cody Johnson or Chris Stapleton was Kane Brown, with an assembled crowd of 75,122.
Cody Johnson first ingratiated himself to Rodeo Houston crowds when he played a last minute fill in show for Old Dominion in 2017. Johnson made the best of the opportunity, creating tremendous buzz out of the performance, and it was arguably the moment the Texas music artist went national. When Johnson returned the next year, he became the first independently-signed artist to ever sell out the rodeo, moving over 74,000 tickets, and beating most other Rodeo performers that season. The success resulted in the Rodeo asking Johnson to write and record their theme song this year, “Welcome To The Show.”
“I hope y’all are as ready as I am tonight,” Cody Johnson said as he took the stage that rotates at the center of the NRG Stadium to play signature songs songs like “With You I Am,” “Cowboys Like Me,” “Noise,” and his tribute to his fans, “Y’all People.”
Cody Johnson started playing and singing country music when he was 12-years-old, and first formed the Cody Johnson Band with his father Carl. He worked as a corrections officer at a local prison while moonlighting as a performer until 2011 when he quit to pursue music full time. His 2014 album Cowboys Like Me saw surprising chart success for an independent artist, coming in at #7 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, and leading to more national awareness.
Cody Johnson signed the deal to form Cojo Music/Warner Music Nashville in June of 2018. The deal meant Johnson was now part of one of the biggest label groups in country music, but still retained creative control under his long-standing, completely independent, and personally-owned record label Cojo Music. In the coming months, Cody Johnson assured his fans he would not change due to the deal. Along with his new record Ain’t Nothin To It hitting #1 on the Country Albums Chart, it also hit #1 on the all-genre Digital Album Sales chart, #2 on the all-genre Album Sales Chart, #9 on the all-genre Billboard 200. His current radio single “On My Way To You” sits at #16 on the charts.