Category Archives: Behind the Music

“When the Night Comes”

I called Stokes a few weeks ago and asked if we could meet in the studio to write. It was late at night and I just needed to be creative and release some energy. Going into the session, I was definitely wanting of create more of a ballad. We sat down and wrote just that in a song called “When The Night Comes.”

When Stokes came into the studio he didn’t say anything. He just walked straight over to the piano and began playing this soft yet energetic melody. I loved it. He began singing “When the night comes, it’s when your ghost hits me.” After that everything else just began to fall into place. I love writing those types of songs. The song is written in the perspective of a guy who has lost someone special to him (whether it be a break up or death). We have all experienced that at some point in our lives. It was very crucial for us to write the song in our view by expressing what we had done in these situations. The guy in this song is contradicting the fact that he is being tortured by the memories of a past loved one. He put up a front, but the smiles can only last so long. That is the meaning of the chorus:

When the night comes, it’s when your ghost hits me

I reach out to hold you, but every clutch is empty

And if you ever needed to see, how quickly real men come undone,

Then baby watch me, when the night comes.


We had an awesome time recording this song in the studio – check out footage in the video below. Energy is so important to me in all of our music. I’m looking forward to y’all giving it a listen to! – CJ

Making of  ”When the Night Comes”


Newnan Nights

It was my first writing session at EMI and with Stokes Nielson.  We walked in and began talking about the CMA’s that were just on the night before. We soon picked up our guitars and started hashing out ideas.  I had always wanted to write a song about the town I was born and raised, Newnan, Georgia. Stokes was the perfect fit to write a song like this with. Both of us grew up in small towns in Georgia, and lived similar lifestyles. The first song we’d write together would be Newnan Nights. We tried our best to paint a picture of what it’s like to grown up in a small town and how important it is to never forget where you’re from. I wanted the song to be very intimate and regional. For me, Newnan is the place that holds so many memories, and the place that in a way has created who I am. I hope all the folks who hear this song, get taken back to that town they call home.

The Story of “Heart of a Champion”

I was on my way back to Nashville from Carrollton where we had a show the night before when I got a text from one of my high school friends, Lorrie Bell. It was a text asking me to do a benefit for her brother who had just been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. When I replied to her later that I would love to be apart of the benefit for her brother, I had no idea that it would change my life forever. I can’t explain the feeling I got when I received this calling to help this local fireman (who is now a forever great friend, and hero to me) from my hometown of Newnan, GA.

I knew from the way people spoke of him, he was a great man, served our community well, and loved God. Lorrie called me a couple nights after, and during our conversation she said to me, “The doctor told him he had the heart of a champion.” I couldn’t get that out of my head. The next day I went into the office of my manager and bud (Stokes Nielson), and brought up the idea of a song called “Heart of a Champion” for Chris. We grabbed our guitars, sat down on the floor and wrote his song.It was as if God, and Chris were with us every second of writing it. I got to Newnan, and right away wanted to go visit Chris and his family.

When I walked into the Landreau home, it was an indescribable feeling. Chris was so pumped about the benefits for that weekend. He never once stopped smiling, and praised God and his community the whole time. You would’ve thought he was going through the best times in his life. That’s when I realized; wow, this is a true champion and a special human being. When we got to Chic-fil-a (which is where the first benefit for Chris was held in Newnan), and asked Chris to come out to the van to listen to his song for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect. He and some of his family came out and we played the song… I will never forget him sitting in the front seat of our van, and after the first chorus a tear fell on the notebook paper he had on a clipboard in his lap. The song moved everyone, but when I saw Chris was emotionally touched, I felt at peace. I didn’t have dry eyes my self, and I honestly do not at this moment writing this blog. He pulled his wife, Amanda close and hugged us all. At that moment we became a family. God had brought us together. Stokes and I were the instruments He had sent for Chris, and Chris with his song and story has and will change so many lives. God bless everyone for there help, and support! I’m so proud to call Newnan, Georgia my home.

Keep posted for more blogs to come on the event, Chris, and Heart of a Champion.


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