STILLWATER, Minn -- A Stillwater based singer songwriter has released several albums, but his most successful chapter yet comes by way of YouTube, where he's been releasing one song daily for over a year.
Zachary Scot Johnson either writes or records a song every day and puts it up on his YouTube Channel. Thursday marks the 400th consecutive day of "The Song a Day" project, with 15 million YouTube hits and counting.
He first began writing all his songs but as time went on needed expand his range. Johnson began taking requests from fans and performing covers from his favorite artists. He plays more than a dozen instruments, and weaves the guitar, piano and violin into many of his arrangements.
"I don't over rehearse, I would say most of the time, it's a one take thing. I just try a song one time and put it up," said Johnson.
His first viral video came with his cover of Elliot Smith's Waltz No.2, which had 50,000 hits. He's had four videos in the last week surpass 100,000 views each. He doesn't know who the majority of his fans are, but says a legion of a few loyal fans hold him accountable and push him to try new genres.
"I am writing more because I am influenced by songs I wasn't familiar with before, or artists I wasn't familiar with before," said Johnson.
Johnson says his early influences include Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. Today, he's also influenced by singer/songwriters Patti Griffin, Lucinda Williams and has even opened for one of his favorite artists, Shawn Colvin and has shared the stage with musician actors Kevin Costner Juliette Lewis, and Rita Wilson. But, Johnson says his goal isn't to become a household name. He says he just hopes to continue to inspire his fans.
"I am so grateful for those people and we will keep going as long as they are there to listen to them," said Johnson. "I'm happy where I'm at now."
Johnson used to live in St. Paul, but now splits his time between Stillwater and Tempe, Arizona where his wife attends graduate school. He has a concert planned in La Crosse, WI this winter.
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