Chris Janson on His Career: 'I'm an Entertainer First,' Ahead of Singing, Songwriting

Chris Janson knows how to captivate a crowd. Whether it's a small, intimate venue or a large arena, Janson's singing, and harmonica playing, make him completely come alive on stage.

"I would say I'm an entertainer first," Janson tells "I'm a music guy first, really, because long before I ever wrote songs I was performing and playing for people. I was just kind of born to do that, so I would always do that, no matter what. It was my hobby, and then it became my job. If it ever wasn't my job, it would be my hobby again. I have to do that."

Janson, who earned rave reviews from Keith Urban at last year's All for the Hall benefit (and has since shared the Opry stage with Urban), also has a mellow, more quiet side. While It's hard to envision the energetic performer being still in a writing room, Janson also loves the craft of songwriting, penning all of the tunes on both his freshman Buy Me a Boat and his recent Everybody album, and even writing songs for artists like Tim McGraw, Lee Brice, Justin Moore and others.

"Songwriting is something I learned, living in Nashville, and I learned from the greatest, and I learned from the best," explains Janson. "I've garnered success as a professional songwriter aside of my artist career, then I've gained it with my artist career. I would say it's 50/50, but I would call myself an entertainer first, just because that was the real chronological order."

Janson had two record deals that didn't work out, on both BNA Records and Bigger Picture. But it wasn't until her recorded Buy Me a Boat on his own that he got Warner Bros. to take notice, signing him after the title track already landed at the top of the iTunes country chart.

"I had two Top 40 hits with two other record labels, but, you know, for whatever reason, each one just wasn't the right time," Janson reflects. "So, timing is everything, I think. You have to be there first, mentally with yourself, then emotionally with yourself, and frankly you have to be there musically, and I just wasn't. Not that the songs were bad, or anything. I just was young, and the timing wasn't right. So, I have some age on me now, at 31."

The Missouri native says that his career setbacks actually made him more appreciative of the success he is finally receiving, and he thinks everything worked out the way it was supposed to.


"I feel like I've lived a lifetime within 31 years, and I'm just grateful for everything that comes my way," he says. "I learned everything not to do before I ever found really big success. Now I just stay humble and keep my nose to the grindstone -- if you're just really thankful in life you get a lot further, and I am truly thankful."