Rayne Johnson is trying to make his name in country music, and performing at “Best Party of the Summer” in Fort Loramie this summer will help.
The Fairfield native, now living in Fairfield Twp., has been playing country music professionally since 2019, and one of his big breaks will be performing in July at the Country Concert in Fort Loramie, which features national acts like Luke Combs, Alan Jackson and Jason Aldean.
“It’s a big opportunity,” said Johnson, who will play July 10 when Aldean headlines the day. “I’m pumped about knowing the crowd that Jason Aldean is going to draw there, and that’s my time to let them know who I am.”
Live shows are what he enjoys the most, said the railroad mechanic.
“Out of everything out of every part of this music journey and stuff I enjoy live shows more than anything else. It’s my absolute favorite thing to do. Every part of it,” he said. “Meeting folks, getting to see other acts opening up for headliners, and being on stage.”
Johnson got into music because of his parents.
“It’s just really been something that’s kind of been a part of my life since I was a kid,” said Johnson. Church music was a big part of that, he said, singing in church starting at around 5 years old.
His mom, who died about 18 months ago from complications of cancer, was a fan of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley and also sang in church.
His dad is a fan of George Jones, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Johnson recalls riding in his dad’s work truck during the summers with the radio always playing classic country music.
Johnson’s music is an infusion of all those sounds.
“Just being able to be comfortable with my voice is literally from listening to Boys II Men, Brian McKnight, Babyface and those guys, and just mimicking them as I was growing up because I just really liked the way they sang,” he said. “I have my dad to thank for the old classic country stuff ... so I think I learned from that the storytelling part of country music. There’s not much to them other than the story.”
Johnson has seen some success in his young country music career, opening for acts like Hunter Hayes, Kelly Pickler, Riley Green and Randy Houser,
For Johnson, he’s an Ohio guy, and specifically, a southwest Ohio guy. He loves his Skyline chili and baseball, and “absolutely” believes Pete Rose should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Though Johnson moved out of Fairfield (he still lives in Butler County), from time to time he will visit his hometown with members of his band.
“I’ll drive back there and reminisce,” he said. He’ll show his bandmates the house he grew up in, and the parks he rode to on his bike.
Johnson’s first taste at success was when his song, “Front Seat,” hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Country Airplay and Mediabase Country Aircheck charts thanks to help from a Boston-area radio station that played the song on evenings and overnights.
“If the song performs well, then they’ll bump you up,” said Johnson.
The station eventually put “Front Seat” on its daytime rotation.
“As an independent artist, it’s tough, it’s really tough to compete,” said Johnson. “But it was the audience. They loved the song, and it seems like everywhere that it was played, we got that same reaction.”
The song to date has collected 12.5 million Spotify streams and 4.2 million YouTube views.
His self-titled EP released by Mountain Road Records/VERGE in October 2020 is a nine-track project that includes “Front Seat” and his latest single “Real Dang Good.” He plans to release an LP later this year, which will feature songs on his EP.
During his journey, Johnson said the one thing he focuses on being is “true to yourself.”
Michael D. Pitman has been a reporter in southwest Ohio since 1999. He's covered local governments in Warren and Butler counties, as well as state and national issues. He currently covers the cities of Fairfield and Hamilton.