JAMEY JOHNSON CONCERT FEATURE - The Grand Rapids Press
Jamey Johnson returns to The Intersection in Grand Rapids
by Jack Leaver | The Grand Rapids Press
Thursday September 10, 2009, 6:13 AM
GRAND RAPIDS -- Award-winning singer and songwriter Jamey Johnson is passionate about his art and doing things his way.
"I reached a point where I realized that if there was a shackle around my ankles, then the only one who put it there was me," Johnson said in a recent phone interview from Texas. "And if that's the case, then the only one that can take it off is me."
The 34-year-old Alabama native, who will make a return engagement at The Intersection on Friday, is referring to his somewhat rocky road as a recording artist. In 2005, the singer released his debut album "The Dollar" on BNA Records, only to find himself dropped from the label when his singles failed to generate enough enthusiasm.
However, the determined Johnson stuck to his guns, recording several albums worth of material, including his Grammy-nominated album "That Lonesome Song," which he first released online in 2007. The album sold well, attracting interest from several record companies in Nashville.
He settled on a deal in 2008 with Mercury Records, and the label subsequently re-released "That Lonesome Song," which has sold more than 500,000 copies. The album's first single, "In Color," this year won Song of the Year honors at the Academy of Country Music Awards.
"We got several offers," Johnson said. "I even turned down two or three offers on the way to accepting the one at Mercury, just because I didn't want people coming in the studio and telling me what to do.
"I don't play that way anymore. Music is too personal to me. It means too much to me, and it's too damn important to let somebody else come in and start tossing out orders and things like that."
Before "That Lonesome Song" made its splash on the country music scene, Johnson enjoyed success penning songs for George Jones, Joe Nichols and Trace Adkins, among others. In fact, Johnson co-wrote superstar George Strait's smash single "Give It Away," which took Song of the Year honors in 2007 from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.
Johnson credits his character and integrity to his upbringing in a poor, but musical, family and eight years of service in the Marine Corps Reserves. While his wild stage persona early in his career earned him a reputation as a country "bad boy," Johnson maintains he was always professional, delivering the goods in live performances.
Happy now, with his new record label, Johnson said he does not harbor an attitude towards the Nashville music industry.
"I treat people the way I expect to be treated, and if I treat somebody well and they mistreat me, we're going to have problems," he said.