Ben Johnson & Track45
With eight No. 1 songs, a BMI Country Award, five CMA Triple Play Awards, and a Song of the Year Grammy nomination (Weezer’s “All My Favorite Songs”), Ben Johnson has built a solid reputation, by himself, and as part of trio Track45. The group’s combined songwriting credits include Justin Timberlake, Charlie Puth, Dierks Bentley, HARDY, Breland, Dylan Scott, Jake Owen, Parmalee, Recklaws, John Legend, Thomas Rhett, Lauren Alaina, Lee Brice, HARDY, David Guetta, Bebe Rexha, Ty Dolla $ign, Kylie Morgan, Tyler Rich, and others.
Born and raised in Meridian, MI (the birthplace of “Father of country music,” Jimmy Rodgers), the Track45 siblings grew up playing sports, while their mother taught them to sing in harmony and sang them lullabies. Their uncle performed in a barbershop quartet, grandpa was a church choir director, and grandmother a piano teacher. Weekly music lessons led to playing guitar, banjo, cello, mandolin and fiddle, and their band moniker is a nod to the railroad history of their hometown, a reference to an original 45 record, as well as the highway that took them to countless gigs around Alabama and Tennessee (from nursing homes, to weddings, funerals, church performances, and parties).
While their fondest memories include harmonizing around the kitchen table, each sibling had their own publishing deal, writing credits, and musical interests before joining forces to combine ideas and perspectives, and their work ethic has always been at the forefront. “The amateur waits for inspiration to strike; the professional shows up to work and finds it,” explains Ben. “I think my thing is definitely showing up to work every day and chasing after inspiration, knowing sometimes it might not be there.”
After a performance at a Dollywood festival (resulting from an impromptu audition on a family trip) sparked the fire, the trio moved to Nashville, with Ben writing two songs a day and working to improve his producing. Meeting Ashley Gorley after an event at Belmont University (where he and KK attended), Ben sent through songs every two months for critique. A year later, Gorley challenged Ben to play him something he didn’t want to share. The song was “Patient,” and, at 2:00 am the next morning, Gorley called to say that Charlie Puth had just cut the track. “It's always these random little moments that you can't plan or take credit for. It's just serendipitous,” says Ben.
At one point, a PRO put on a showcase for the band on music row that was packed with publishers, but not a single call or meeting request came. By contrast, while playing a small bowling alley gig, the sound engineer introduced them to Byron Gallimore, who later produced their first project, and whose wife Missi (of T.R.U.T.H. Management) later signed them to joint management with Borman Entertainment. At a Nashville church barbeque, they connected with songwriter Rivers Rutherford, who helped them get into the writing circuit. Admits Ben, “You have moments where you feel like you're going to win [but nothing happens], and then you play a show at a bowling alley and you end up with one of the biggest producers. One thing that has helped me more than anything is just being persistent. Treat every opportunity like it's the opportunity, even if it's a bowling alley or a church picnic―you never know.”
Ben says sister KK is an incredible producer, always teaching him things, and that Jenna is “concept-driven, always blowing me away.” KK felt awkward in school, finding music as a way to self-express. “Songwriting is [still] my favorite way to process my thoughts and feelings,” she says. Jenna always assumed she would just write for the trio but, “found a love for writing for other artists as well.” Following Small Town (2020) and Big Dreams (2021), Grew Up On is out now on BBR/ Stoney Creek Records.
Contact: [email protected], track45.com