Small particulars make for big stories. Much like talking to a buddy over a frosty brew on a Friday night with nowhere to go, Rayne Johnson spares no details in his music. People and places practically come alive within the songs as he navigates love, life, and everything in between. The Fairfield, OH singer/songwriter amplifies traditional country tales through soulful vocals bolstered by rock energy and a twist of R&B flavor. This is primarily showcased in his recently released tracks “Somebody with a Broken Heart” and “Country Up” (Mountain Road Records).
These are the first two songs that follow his debut, self-titled EP which was released in 2020. Generating over 55 million streams independently and receiving acclaim from CMT and Taste of Country who crowned him “a smooth operator,” he landed in the Top 10 on the iTunes Country chart upon release. The EP features Top 40 single “Front Seat” as well as carefree hit “Real Dang Good” and fan-favorite “Laid Back.”
“I want you to actually hear the story in my music” he explains. “Country’s my favorite genre, but I love R&B too. I’m trying to bring some of that style to country storytelling. I’m translating who I am through the lyrics and the music. Hopefully, you can relate.”
His own story certainly remains relatable through and through. Growing up in Fairfield, music surrounded him. Mom spun classics by Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley around the house. Meanwhile, dad played George Jones, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard in his fuel truck as a young Rayne accompanied him on local delivery hauls. Along the way, the budding artist also developed a passion for R&B, discovering Boyz II Men, Babyface, and Brian McKnight. “I thought it was awesome how those guys could do runs, so I mimicked them,” he recalls. He often soloed in choir at church and even periodically dueted with his mother on stage.
Post-high school, he took a job as a railroad mechanic – one he still maintains today – between performing anywhere and everywhere with a stage. Proving his work ethic is unparalleled, Rayne hustled for more than a decade thriving in his full-time career while pursuing his passion for music. He actually learned guitar from an older co-worker during their downtime and gleamed the basics on a used Celebrity Ovation.
“When I was out there working on the railroad and had any downtime waiting on the trains, my co-worker would teach me basic chords on the guitar and I just ran with it from there.”
And his musical experience has also been varied. After logging time as part of a regional Christian rock group, he launched Country rock band Pistol Holler, opening for the likes of Hunter Hayes, Kelly Pickler, Riley Green, and Randy Houser, to name a few. At one gig in Kentucky with the band, he even met his wife of seven years, Arika. After the group amicably parted ways, he received a call from producer Mark Liggett [Blessid Union of Souls, Robin Gibb, NKOTB] to sing some song demos for a new writer he’d signed. Following just one session, they unlocked fervent creative chemistry in the studio alongside songwriter Joe Jordan who wrote or co-wrote 8 of 9 tracks on the debut EP.
Other collaborators and contributors on the debut project include Walt Aldridge [Travis Tritt], chart-topping Country artist Jimmie Allen, GRAMMY-nominated songwriters Sam Sumser and Sean Small [Lizzo], and Australian artist Quinn Lewis. In the end, Rayne’s story is about to take even more incredible twists and turns as he gears up for a follow-up EP out later this year.
“It’s very exciting to get the real me out in this music,” he adds. “Whether it’s a ballad or an upbeat tune, I’m giving you everything I’ve got. I encourage people to have a good time. I just hope to connect with a message of my own. Between that and the man bun, I’m doing something a little different for sure.”
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