Texas native, Cody Johnson has set the record as the first independent artist to sell out the over 70,000-capacity NRG Stadium in Houston. As part of RodeoHouston, Johnson and his band headlined the Saturday night slot, selling 74,177 tickets for the landmark event. Since 2006, Johnson has self-released six albums on his own label, CoJo.
Johnson’s paid attendance outsold every other performer at this year’s rodeo excluding country giant Garth Brooks. Other artists on this year’s calendar included Little Big Town, Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini, Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, and Chris Stapleton.
“Houston, biggest show of my life all thanks to y’all! Can’t begin to express what it means to be the first unsigned artist in history to sell out RodeoHouston at NRG. Thanks for a night I’ll never forget,” Johnson said during his performance on March 10.
The 30-year-old Johnson captivated the Houston audience with self-released tracks such as “Diamond In My Pocket,” “Dear Rodeo,” and “With You I Am.” The Huntsville native has been heralded for his likeness to country greats like George Jones and George Strait. Johnson closed out 2017 as the most streamed indie country act of the year behind former major label/now indie superstars Garth Brooks, Jewel and The Dixie Chicks.
His latest studio album, Gotta Be Me, came out on Aug. 5, 2016 and reached No. 2 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. The album prior to Gotta Be Me, Cowboy Like Me hit No. 7 on the same chart, while his 2017 single “With You I Am” reached No. 40 on Billboard’s Top Country songs chart.
— RODEOHOUSTON (@RODEOHOUSTON) March 11, 2018
This is the second time Johnson has played RodeoHouston. In 2017, the enigmatic singer-songwriter filled in last minute for Old Dominion who had to pull out of their performance due to a loss in the family. Johnson delighted fans in 2017 by exiting the stage on a horse instead of a truck, a move he pulled again this year. Up until his 2011 Texas Regional Music Award for New Male Vocalist of the Year, Johnson had been working as a horseback guard at a correctional facility in Texas while creating music.
During his performance on Saturday, Johnson previewed music from a new album expected later this year with a cover of Charlie Daniels Band’s “Long Haired Country Boy.”