By: Duane Blankenship | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: October 2013
Singer/songwriter Cory Johnson (center) with Main Street Tavern Owner Jason Scarpa and Manager Mel Shuman.
Talented and doing what he loves to do – that’s Cory Johnson, an Oklahoma singer/songwriter who now resides in Nashville, Tennessee. Cory was born in Tulsa and spent most of his youth in rural Oklahoma towns. He lived in Wagoner with his family from age 12 to 18. Confessing to being a little on the ornery side, Cory got his publishing company name "That Johnson Boy's Music."
“I’ve been singing my whole life,” says Cory. His mom tells him that he first performed at the age of three. “We were in a small café in Tulsa and a Beatles song began to play on the jukebox. I stood up in the booth and sang along, not missing a word.” Cory says when he was just a bit older he remembers singing for his grandmother, who paid him ten cents a song. “One of her favorites,” he remembers, “was ‘Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On’,” written and recorded by Hank Locklin in 1958.” The song became an instant success and made it to number five on the charts; even early on, Cory knew a good thing when he heard it.
Cory began writing and composing songs at 14. “Mom bought me a guitar for my 14th birthday,” he said. “I immediately learned six chords and wrote two songs. She was always telling me to ‘listen to the words’ when you hear a song.”
He used to sing a lot of songs by Merle Haggard, who was always his favorite. While still under age, Cory would sneak into a local bar to play with the band and perform a couple of tunes.
Cory enjoys blues, jazz and most styles of music, but whenever he writes or performs, it definitely comes out country. His lifetime passion has been to be a songwriter/singer, with an emphasis on songwriting. “I was never able to shake the idea,” he says. In the ’80s, Cory played guitar and sang harmony with another Wagoner entertainer and in ’89 started his own band. They opened for Clint Black, Dan Seals and Restless Heart, and performed at Mayfest and other local venues.
Cory has a CD Release Party scheduled for Friday, October 18 at 9:30 p.m. at the Main Street Tavern, located at 200 S. Main St. in Broken Arrow. The evening kicks off with the Rearview Mirror Band that includes members Rob Bishline, Roy Hood and Rick Williams. Around 10 p.m., Cory will perform songs featured on his new CD. There is no charge to attend, but CDs will be for sale, featuring ten favorite songs written and performed by Cory.
“I’m hoping to generate a buzz in Nashville,” Cory says. “I’m busier now than I’ve ever been and appreciate the support and encouragement from my good friends in Oklahoma and Nashville.”
Blankenship graduated from the University of Oklahoma and has enjoyed a lifetime career in advertising. He started his own advertising business in 1993 and enjoys creating graphic art and writing. Hobbies include hunting, fishing and pencil drawings. Duane and his wife, Janice, have been married over 50 years and are active in their church and community. He has been a contributing writer for Value News/Values Magazine since 2005.