Back in October, Kane Brown was an Internet sensation, known to nearly 800,000 fans on social media, but unknown to the suits at the record labels. Man, have things changed.
” … I kept posting videos and ended up meeting with every label in Nashville and New York, and they all wanted to sign me,” Brown said last week. “I was introduced to Sony and I had a good feeling about Sony, so I signed with them.”
Sony put him right into the studio to record a five-song EP after signing him. “Chapter 1” came out on March 17 — and went to No. 1 on the iTunes Country Album Chart and Overall Album Chart in 30 minutes.
Wanting a way to debut the songs they'd written, Chickamauga's Casey Carpenter and Rossville's Josh Johnson started the Johnson Carpenter Band more than a decade ago.
These days, they are appearing on bigger and bigger stages, and writing music for rising stars including Kane Brown, the Rossville native who's taking Nashville by storm.
"Being new songwriters in town, we formed a band," said Carpenter, who plays the keyboard in the Johnson Carpenter Band. "We had to make a band so people would hear our music. We formed a band out of necessity and met Kane Brown and wrote his first original song, 'Don't Go City On Me.' We also wrote 'Turns Me On.' 'Don't Go City On Me' got over a million hits on YouTube and past 10 million on Facebook."
Carpenter said they now co-write songs with Brown, and Johnson is the acoustic player for the Kane Brown Band. Splitting his time between Chickamauga and Nashville, Carpenter is a staff writer for Banner Music Publishing where he works with well-known musicians Jerry Salley and Chris Stapleton. Carpenter said he writes songs for other rising stars like Shelby Lee Lowe and Annie Morgan.
"Twelve years ago Josh and I were just happy to be songwriters, and now we are living it every day," he said. "It's pretty awesome."
Though Carpenter said he and Johnson were songwriters first and never aspired to be musical artists, the Johnson Carpenter Band is getting some big-time stage time of its own. The group will play at this year's CMA Festival Show in June, he said.
"We play in huge shows in Nashville," said Carpenter. "We started the band to let people hear our songs and now Kane performs our songs, so we live through him. Nashville says that Kane Brown is the male version of Taylor Swift. We wrote a song called 'Knock Knock' that we hope he will sing next."
Carpenter said he owes a lot to Brown and Banner Music. He works with hundreds of artists per year through Brown, he said, adding that he looks on Facebook and YouTube to find other artists to work with too.
"It takes a long time to get your money as a songwriter," Carpenter said. "I'm working with artist JD Baker. We wrote a song for the troops. The song got a lot of use. It is called 'God Gained a Few Good Men.' We wrote it for the tragedy in Chattanooga. In the long run, Josh and I would like to give back to the community charities in Chattanooga."
The duo started something on Facebook called "Tag Team Tuesday" where they bring in new artists every Tuesday to record with them and videotape the session to post online. Carpenter said they try to make the videos humorous.
"My first-ever single as an artist is called 'You're like a Yeti,'" he said. "It's about a cold-hearted breakup."
Those looking for some musical inspiration of their own can get help from Carpenter in his new gig as a local music instructor.
"I just signed on to be a music instructor at the Music Instruction Studio in Chattanooga with locations in East Brainerd, Cleveland and Hixson. I teach piano, guitar and songwriting," he said. "I'm super-excited for my new journey as a music instructor.
"I thank God for the blessing to be able to do music for a living. To be able to do music for a living has been my dream and it came true."