Friday, February 3, 2012

Up & Coming New Nashville- Chris and Johnny

Chris and Johnny might be a new name for most of our That Nashville Sound readers, but you're most certainly familiar with their work. Chris Roberts and Johnny Bulford both have extensive experience on Music Row as writers for Warner Chappel and individual performing careers and are now hoping for that next step to launch their career into the next stratosphere as a duo.


Chris Roberts, a native of New Orleans, Louisiana, was immersed into music by way of New York's Broadway. He starred in a production of the Broadway musical The Civil War, alongside singer Larry Gatlin, in New York City. Gatlin, who had once fronted a trio which also included his two brothers (Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers), mentored fellow actor Royal Reed and Roberts, also suggesting that they should add a third member to complete their vocal-centric group. Initially, they could not find a suitable third member for the trio. Eventually, they befriended Marcus Hummon, with whom they began to write songs.

Chris Roberts
Through Hummon, the two discovered South Carolina native Eddie Bush, who was added to the group in 2005. The three members discovered that they worked well together as a vocal trio, and assumed the name One Flew South. The three all sing lead vocals on their songs. One Flew South's first recording was the song "Friends for Life", which Hummon co-wrote; the trio recorded the song on the soundtrack to the 2006 film The Fox and the Hound 2. After that song was released, the trio began recording demo tapes while seeking a record deal. With Hummon's help, they were signed to a recording contract with Decca Records in 2007, as well as a publishing contract with Sony/ATV Publishing. Their debut album, Last of the Good Guys, was released on May 27, 2008. Unfortunately, while critically lauded, Decca let go of the band from the label along with many other acts in a 2009 multi-act purge.

By the age of 19, Johnny's earnest and likable personality, natural talent, and passion for music enabled him to open for headliners such as Collin Raye, Josh Turner, Trick Pony, and Emerson Drive. It was during this time that he released his first indie album “Southern Thing”. The title track is a fun tune about spring break and the frivolity of youth.

In 2003 he was faced with a decision, college or music? The problem was that his passion for music could only be rivaled by his love of academics so he chose to do both. Meanwhile he was actively touring and promoting his second album “What Happens Here Stays Here”

Johnny Bulford
2004 had him competing in the prestigious Colgate Country Showdown. This competition starts at the local level, moves to the state level, then on to regional’s and finally, ends at the nationals . Johnny won the state level but didn’t take the regional’s. But that would all change in 2008.

During the next few years he made many trips to Nashville developing relationships with label executives and consistently left them wanting to hear more. He became actively involved in local charities such as the Russell Home for Atypical Children and he was commissioned by the veteran’s group ‘Remembering the Brave’ to write a song for fallen soldiers. That song has been played at numerous events for America’s Gold Star families.

The 2008 Colgate Country Showdown pitted Johnny against some of the toughest talent to date. In all, more than 50,000 artists competed in all states and regions to make it to the finals in Nashville. This was his chance to shine and shine he did. Only 5 artists were chosen for the final competition, and when the smoke cleared, Johnny was the winner of $100,000.

Winning that ‘Happy Gilmore check’ as he likes to all it, did more than just give him some extra spending cash. It kicked open doors to Nashville’s inner circle of writers. Recognizing pure talent when they see it, Warner Chappell Music signed Johnny as a staff writer and immediately put him to work writing and co-writing with some of Nashville’s hottest and most successful writers including Michael Dulaney and Lisa Carver.

2009 saw the release of “Livin It Up”, which features tracks written or co-written and produced by the singer and collaborations with renowned Nashville songwriting heavyweights, the Grammy nominated Charlie Craig (Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton) and Robert Arthur (Brad Paisley, Mark Chesnutt, Jeff Bates). The title track talks of high school and rivalries and just being a kid.

His latest venture has been writing with Grammy Nominated Chris Young. Chris’s next album will be released in the fall of 2011. "Flashlight", a song he wrote with Chris and Robert Arthur will not only be on that album but also Johnny's first cut.

Johnny resides in Nashville and can also be spotted performing at ‘writers rounds’ throughout the city. He also frequently travels with his five piece band across the southeast. His distinctive voice, passionate lyrics and haunting melodies are a shining testament to past country greats like Vince Gill, James Taylor and his childhood idol, Garth.

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