Who is Johnny Cooper....
...an evocative blend of soul, rock and pop
Musicians get noticed for a wide array of reasons. Some win various competitions, while others seem to have as much in the way of connections as in pure talent. Then there are those who simply demand attention through performances so dynamic and powerful that they simply can not be ignored.
Johnny Cooper is one of those artists.
The front man of the band that bears his name, Cooper already has reached dual-threat status: he has rare talent that has earned him critical acclaim for his recordings and live shows, and he performs with an energy that captivates audiences in venues of all sizes.
That he has grown so successful — Cooper already has sold more than 50,000 albums — so quickly is hardly surprising, considering he is thriving in the environment in which he was raised. With a mother who was a dance choreographer and a father who owned nightclubs and wrote songs with him, Cooper has been around entertainers throughout his life, and now features a sound that draws on his enormous range of musical influences — a list that includes pop, classic rock, R&B, hip-hop and country — and features an irresistible energy. “That’s what my whole thing’s about,” Cooper says. “I can’t tell you that tomorrow, I’m not going to write a country song, or a funk song, or team up with a rapper. I love it when you tell me I can’t write a certain kind of song, because then I’m going to show up and say, ‘glad you said I can’t do it — here it is.’
“I like a lot of different artists. I listened to a lot of Queen growing up, and Stevie Wonder has had a big effect on my life, but I can’t put on Art Garfunkel and shake my ass. When I first heard Stevie Wonder, I wanted to get up and move. I’m drawn to people who get up there and play with cajones. If I want to hear you sing, I can stay at home and listen to a recording, but if I want to see a show, I want to see a show. That’s the way I am on stage.”
Of course, on-stage theatrics can carry a performer only so far. At his core, Cooper is an extraordinarily gifted musician whose versatility belies his youth. His rich voice is both exceedingly talented and well trained; few singers are willing to perform covers of artists like Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, TLC and James Brown, as Cooper did (largely while building up his library of his own compositions) and he does so with a confidence and style worthy of the original artists. He also is a virtuoso guitarist who can dazzle with his full band, in duo performances with a drummer or as a solo acoustic artist. While recording his first several albums, Cooper has become an in-demand performer, often booking more than 200 shows a year and creating music for numerous projects. “I like to write to a challenge,” Cooper says. “A producer called me and said he needed a song for a movie. He said it needed to be ‘kind of honky-tonk, kind of George Jones-ish.’ So I told him to send me the scene — no music, just audio — and I would write a song that fits the scene. I started listening to a bunch of George Jones music and came up with a song, Devil in Glass, that got accepted into the movie.”
Cooper’s sound has evolved since his first album, which had a Texas country/southern rock feel. Moving forward, he added more funk and R&B influences, earning comparisons to Lenny Kravitz. His next offering, Red Sessions, is a hybrid of several musical genres and is being supported through pledgemusic.com, which allows fans to help fund the creation of the album. “It’s a hands-on way for people to help make music,” Cooper says. “Fans get to hear our music and make donations toward the next recording, and in return, they get things back, a bunch of personalized stuff. It’s a great way of allowing our fans to help us make the music they enjoy.”
That’s exactly what fans are doing, and in rapidly growing numbers: enjoying the music of Johnny Cooper, whose song writing, on-stage charisma and unique talent has to be seen and heard to be believed.