Lee Kernaghan & James Johnston Drop Collaborative Single ‘Who I Am’

5 July 2024 | 11:23 am | Ellie Robinson

“To be able to release this song together and share a part of our story is pretty special to me.”

James Johnston & Lee Kernaghan

James Johnston & Lee Kernaghan (Facebook)

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A week after they teased it on social media, Lee Kernaghan and James Johnston have released their epic collaboration, a new single titled Who I Am.

According to Kernaghan, the origin of the pairing dates all the way back to 2001, when Johnston was just ten years old, dreaming of becoming a country star as he busked on the streets of Tamworth. “I shook the little bloke’s hand and signed a tour poster for him,” Kernaghan said in a press release, noting that he wrote a message to Johnston reading, “You will rock Australian country!”

He continued the story: “James told me that the autographed poster hung on his bedroom wall for many years alongside his childhood musical heroes. Twenty years later he’s gone on to become one of the most popular new artists in country music. To be able to release this song together and share a part of our story is pretty special to me.”

In his own statement, Johnston explained how Kernaghan’s music influenced him at a formative time in his upbringing: “As a young boy, I grew up listening to Lee’s music, it made me feel proud of the life I lived as a small town country kid. Who I Am is an extension of that, it’s about being proud of the person you are and celebrating the life you love. To be able to have a song with this message with my childhood hero is something I’m incredibly excited about.”

Who I Am was co-written by Johnston and Kernaghan alongside Colin Buchanan and Nick Wolfe (of The Wolfe Brothers), and comes as Kernaghan’s first headlined release in five years, following his career-defining 2019 album Backroad Nation.

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Meanwhile, last month saw Kernaghan expand his fast-impending Boys From The Bush tour, adding new dates in NSW and Queensland. He also hinted at an upcoming new album, revealing that he’s been working on new music: “It feels fantastic to be back in the studio, and I’m really excited to be playing some of the new songs for the first time on the national tour.

“There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since the last record, and country music just seems to be getting better and more popular each year.”