(Webster) Jamey Johnson is set to join Willie Nelson's Country Throwdown Tour 2011 which kicks off May 27 in Philadelphia.
Johnson has also been busy producing several projects in addition to writing and recording songs for his upcoming album.
After performing and recording in Florida earlier this month, Johnson returned to Nashville, stopping off in his home state of Alabama to see if he could lend a helping hand after it was devastated by deadly tornadoes. Then he attended a listening party at Ben's Studio in Nashville for the Blind Boys of Alabama's new album, Take the High Road, which he produced.
Johnson says it was "easy" working with the legendary gospel group on a project that includes Hank Williams Jr., Vince Gill, Lee Ann Womack, Willie Nelson and the Oak Ridge Boys. Johnson sang with the group on "Have Thine On Way, Lord" and recorded such classics as "I Saw the Light," "Jesus, Hold My Hand," "Lead Me Home" and "I Know a Place."
"It was a lot of fun," Johnson says. "We would play a song that we thought would be a sure fit and look around and not see any reaction. But if we played one that we saw heads bobbing and people singing along, we knew that it would be the next song we were about to go in and cut."
Johnson also invited music legends such as George Jones and Bill Anderson to stop by during the sessions. Jimmy Carter, a founding member of the Blind Boys of Alabama, told Johnson that he had heard about a bar named Tootsies Orchid Lounge in Nashville, but he thought that it might just be a legend. Johnson not only assured him that the bar really existed, he took him there.
"I wound up onstage there, singing," Carter says. "That was a great, great moment in my life. And Jamey later took me to the Station Inn, where I sang along with Vince Gill and the Time Jumpers.
"I told Jamey I've been in many recording sessions before, but I have never enjoyed one as much as I have this one," Carter says. "I had a blast. It became like family."
Adds the Blind Boys' Ricky McKinnie, "Jamey allowed us to be able to work with some of the people we've always wanted to work with, and his spirit has been one that has touched the Blind Boys. I feel like what is from the heart will reach the heart."
But Johnson gives the credit to the group. "It was very easy to create music with the genius of the Blind Boys behind you."