Exclusive Artist Interview: Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is part of the country music band Track45. The country band has quickly gained traction in the country music circuit since the band’s release of their debut CB titled Smalltown. The band is composed of siblings Jenna, KK, and Ben. The music group trio grew up in Meridian, Mississippi. Meridian is not only known as a railroad town but also known for producing a string of successful artists, most notable, “the father of the country”, Jimmie Rodgers. The number 45 in their group moniker is the highway they grew up on. “it’s the highway that takes us home”, said Ben.

Music was a big part of the family. They grew up singing together around the dinner table after supper and were further nurtured with the help of their mom and grandparents. As they got older their mom taught them to harmonize, their grandma taught them how to play the piano, and their grandfather who was also musically inclined was their church’s choir director.

As a test of their musical commitment, their mom told the siblings “If you really want to play [the instrument] you’ll pay for [the instrument] yourself”. As many parents can attest to, children are fickle and lose interest in extracurricular activities fast. However, as we know it today, their interest did not wane and only intensified as they got older. Ben said it took them about one year to save up enough money to purchase their instruments. Jenna got a guitar, KK got a fiddle, and Ben a cello. With that, their musical career began.

They began playing just one song for multiple nursing homes and through those gigs word of mouth spread which then landed them to other musical gigs. Before they knew it, they were touring the Southeast spreading their musical talents for more people to enjoy. This all before they even made it to high school.

It took just one man to give them the confidence in themselves to trust in their musical ability. Ben said, Marty Gamblin, who also worked with musical likes, Alan Jackson and Glen Campbell heard them at a show around town and approached them backstage after the show and posed a question that would take them on a different track. “Hey, have you all ever thought about moving to Nashville? I think y’all really have what it takes”.

Hearing this is just what the siblings needed to further propel them to a level that would continue to test how badly they really wanted this. On a leap of faith and with their parent’s blessing they made the big move to Nashville.

Once they made their arrival to the capital of country music; they began thinking of the goals they wanted to accomplish in this new chapter of their journey. Ben said, “We’ve always been very goal-oriented people…we got a thing of sticky notes, and we wrote down all our goals on sticky notes and we stuck the sticky notes on the wall of our apartment. We put the biggest goals at the top and the more attainable goals at the bottom. And so, we pick up the sticky note every time we conquered our goal…”

Signing a record label was at the top of their list and last summer they reached that goal by signing a record deal with Broken Bow Records. “Always towards the top was a record deal…that’s always been a huge goal for us”, said Ben.

The journey to signing the deal was a long path that began by partnering with the right people that could help cultivate them for the next steps in their musical journey. They signed with Gary Borman & Missy Gala who also manage other iconic acts like Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Lady Antebellum, Rolling Stones, and Tim McGraw, respectively. Ben said this was the moment their career came to a focus. They were able to see their potential and provide tangible ways to prepare them to take the next steps needed to get them closer to the goal that was sticking on a post-it note at the top of their apartment wall.

Influenced by the likes of Dolly Parton, Beatles, Eagles, and Taylor Swift. Ben credits being siblings and growing up singing together is what helped build their harmonious-driven sound. Their sound has traditional country musical instruments like the Mandolin, Banjo, acoustic guitar, steel guitar, but they also bring other unique elements such as many of their current sensibilities, dubbing their sound, “the new old school”, said Ben.

The group’s first Radio single “Met Me Now” was the most added group to country radio. The song written two years ago was a personal one for them.  Written in 2019, the youngest of the 3, KK was inspired by a personal experience. Ben said, “KK came to us with this idea because we only write songs that we believe or that we’ve lived. That’s very important for us. KK was like, hey, I’ve just had this experience and I have this idea for a song about if I can go back in time, I think this all would’ve turned out different. It was like almost this kind of time-travel song where like, what are you talking about? And then she starts telling us these lyrics for this course. If you had met me now, I think, you know, I’d still be on.

Ben Johnson has also ventured out and had success as a writer, contributing to the Lee Brice hit song “One of Them Girls”. Ben recalls the experience saying, “It was Father’s Day 2019, and I got a call from my friend, Ashley Gorley and he said, Hey, what are you doing tonight? Do you want to write to Lee Brice and me? I was actually on the road to Mississippi, and I went, and I turned around, said, sorry, dad, I’ll see you later, but I’m going to go write with Libra. We all got together in Dallas Davidson was there as well. We actually started writing at 10:00 PM at night, so a very late start…I started playing the guitar riff and literally, we had the most fun. We were eating and just hanging out and just throwing out ideas and singing and recording a demo while we were going. By two o’clock in the morning, we had written the song and then I stayed up until four o’clock in the morning working on it. I had recorded it on my laptop and I arranged it, made a demo for it and I sent it off at four o’clock that morning and then Lee sent us a video at eight o’clock in the morning of his studio, recording it with the band. So literally four hours after I sent it out, he was in the studio recording it… I don’t know if I’ll ever have that fast of a turnaround again”.

Ben says they are not done just yet with accomplishing their goals saying, “You know, you dream of a lot of these moments when you’re here and then, of course, you worked for six years and it feels like you’re not getting anywhere and you start thinking, I don’t know if any of this is going to happen, actually and then suddenly all that work starts paying off and, you know, by the grace of God, I’ve been able to have some success, but I really feel like I’m just getting started. To be honest, I have a lot of goals. I’ve still got a lot of sticky notes up on the wall that I want to, I want to accomplish”.

Find Ben Johnson and Track45 all over social media.