Texas Red Dirt musician Johnny Cooper may only be 22, but at that young age he has accomplished as much, or more than many musicians will in their entire careers.
He’s sold thousands of records, his MySpace page has been visited millions of times, and he’s developed quite a following beyond the Red Dirt circuit in Texas and Oklahoma.
After graduating from high school a year early, he became a professional musician at the age of 16 and put out his first record, 2005’s Live at the Pub. The record was a tremendous success and was voted Best Live CD of 2006 by Oklahoma publication Payne County Line, beating out The Randy Rogers Band among others for the award.
Cooper has since released two studio albums, Ignition in 2006 and Follow in 2009. “You get to see me grow up, I guess,” he says of the albums, which he recorded at ages 16 and 20. “On Ignition, I really had no recording experience. I just had a bunch of songs, and a really good band around me. On Follow I got to be a lot more apart of everything that was going on. I got to put everything together the way that I wanted to.”
Lately, he’s been busy mixing his second live album, tentatively due to be released sometime in July. It’s a wonder Cooper isn’t burnt out; he averages a remarkable 200 shows a year. What keeps him going is his passion for music. “I can be as tired as I’ve ever been, and then about 30 minutes before show time I get this burst of energy. And after we play it takes me 3 or 4 hours to wind down from all the adrenaline and energy that comes from getting to play music with four other guys that are my best friends. There’s a lot of energy that comes from that and keeps you going every day.”
He and his band have traveled from Texas, as far away as L.A. and Chicago in the U.S., and even spent a week in Ireland. This year, Cooper and his band took their show beyond the road with 300 fans on a cruise to Mexico. They’re doing it again next year and information about it can be found on Cooper’s website.
To Cooper, all of the hard work and constant touring are worthwhile because of his fans. “All that really matters is that the music is good, and it feels good to you, and that people can latch onto it and want to be apart of it. That’s what’s most important. It’s just about making good music and getting it out there to the people.”