Some spirits are undeniably connected and thrive best when merged. That is the aura surrounding the country music duo, Lockhart.
Lockhart is comprised of Janell Wheeler and Johnny Bulford, two names who have already left a mark on country music on their own, but have now joined forces to bring an unforgettable sound and listening experience to the world. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Lockhart to get to know them as a duo, and to share some inspiring moments.
For those who aren’t familiar with Lockhart, can you tell us how you got your start?
Johnny: “We met nine years ago, in a singing competition, and we became best friends and have been best friends ever since. She (Janell) asked me if I wanted to be in a duo with her (laughs while she rolls her eyes and she says, ‘I was joking!’). I have always been a huge fan of her voice, since we met, and her talent as an entertainer.”
Janell: “And I have been a fan of his since we met, too. After American Idol, when I first moved up here to Nashville, I called Johnny and I said ‘hey, I heard you’re buying a house, can I rent a room from you?’ He was in a duo at the time, and I was the lead singer in a trio. We have both had our ups and downs with music. We’ve watched each other have successes and failures, and the time finally came where we looked at each other and we just knew it was the right place, right time. It all fit together and we knew it was the right thing. So, (jokingly) I got my secret wish – muahahaha.”
You both have individual successes, including Johnny with songwriting (wrote the No. 1 song “A Woman Like You” recorded by Lee Brice) and Janell with American Idol. What has been the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome either individually or as a duo to get to where you are today?
Janell: “So far the biggest obstacles have been individual. We both have wanted to be successful musicians since we were kids, and there have been a lot of nos. When I first moved here, I thought it was going to be easy. I was on American Idol and I thought I had ‘made it,’ but no, not at all. (laughs)”
Johnny: “We have what each other might be lacking. Her strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa.”
Janell: “Since we have gotten together, it feels like everything is starting to head in the right direction, and things are soaring for us. We’ve been doing Lockhart for one year now, but since January 2016 is when we have noticed the most change, especially with the release of our EP.”
When those obstacles seem to pile up, what motivates you to keep chasing your dreams?
Johnny: “Music. It is what we have both always wanted to do.”
Janell: “Right. I wouldn’t be living states and states away from my family and friends unless this was something I truly wanted. It’s my dream. I’ve been auditioning and trying to be something ‘big’ since I was in second grade. We both have that same outlook about music. Music is what lifts me up and gets me motivated. Whenever I’m down, I will throw on a playlist of (not my music) but other artists, and it will inspire me. When I watch too much TV and I’m not turning on my music, I lose my motivation and I get lazy. If I flip that and I start my day with a great playlist, I feel more ‘me’ and more productive.”
Since the answers vary so widely, I have to ask the core question: what is your favorite thing about country music?
Janell: “Besides the motivation we just talked about, it would be the songs as a whole and how much I relate to them. Currently, Dierks Bentley ‘Different For Girls’ makes me think ‘wow’ it’s my song.”
Johnny: “My favorite thing about country music is the lyrics. I agree with Janell on her comment. That’s such a well-written song.”
Lastly, what is on the horizon for Lockhart?
Johnny: “Traveling! Lots of shows, on the road. Lots of behind the scenes work here in Nashville, too. Trying to get our names out there and sharing away, feeling out who might want to be a part of this with us!”
One thing is for sure; the chemistry between these two, combined with their personal desires for success is a recipe for prosperity that we can’t wait to watch unfold! Keep up with Lockhart on their website, Facebook, Twitter.
Lockhart’s EP Reckless is available now on iTunes.