IT’S taken barely 12 months for James Johnston to progress from talent with a dream to one of the most sought after performers on Australia’s biggest country music lineups.

When he takes the stage next weekend at the southern hemisphere’s biggest rodeo, the 31-year-old will have just about ticked all the boxes on the national circuit, and there’s a sense in the industry that bigger things are on the horizon.

Johnston will join pop music icon Guy Sebastian and country rock titans McAlister Kemp on the lineup for the Mount Isa Mines Rodeo running from August 11-14.

James Johnston performing at the Tara Festival of Culture and Camel Races

Considering his first single Raised Like That was released only a year ago, Johnston said it was “humbling” to be already being named on the same bills as some of Australia’s biggest stars.

“It’s been a pretty wild 12 months,” he said.

“The Isa Rodeo is like nothing else. It’s the biggest rodeo in the southern hemisphere, and that makes it the best in the world because it’s in Australia, right?

“This will be my first Isa Rodeo. I’ve been told for many years about how good a party it is, so I’m very excited to get out there and perform my show.

“I’m a big fan of Guy Sebastian. I think he’s absolutely incredible, so to be on the same bill as him is going to be special.”

LISTEN: Raised Like That – James Johnston

In a sure sign that Johnston’s material is turning heads and pricking ears early in his published career, Raised Like That last month became the first independent country music single in 21 years to be certified Gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA).

The only other Australian country artists in history to achieve ARIA Gold status for a single are Slim Dusty, John Williamson, James Blundell, Kasey Chambers, The Wolverines, Keith Urban and Morgan Evans.

“It’s a pretty big honour, that sort of achievement, but it’s one of those things that I don’t get too caught up on,” Johnston said.

“For me, just seeing people singing my songs is what’s special. It’s absolutely what I’ve dreamt of. I love it. 

“I wake up and I write songs and I produce music and I get to come out and perform those songs. It’s incredible and I’m truly just loving every minute.”

WATCH: James Johnston performs at the Tara Festival of Culture and Camel Races

Earlier this year Johnston had the honour of performing alongside none other than Lee Kernaghan at the 50th Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Following the Mount Isa Mines Rodeo, he’ll round out 2022 with a string of shows including the Gympie Music Muster and the CMC Rocks Festival.

He said while the big ticket concerts were great, the small town gigs also gave him a huge thrill.

“My favourite place is out in the bush, those little small towns, because that’s really where these songs are written from. These songs are inspired from these little regional towns like the one I grew up in (Wingham NSW).

“To get out there and perform is so much fun. Everyone is always just so excited to have an artist playing for them.”

Headlining the Rodeo Rock line-up at Mount Isa will be Guy Sebastian, Pierce Brothers, McAlister Kemp and James Johnston.

And the Mount Isa Mines Indigenous Rodeo Championships Concert on Thursday evening will star Baker Boy, the Sundowners Kalkutungu Dancers, theDesert Dust Dance Group and local DJ Deadly Jacob.


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