EL PASO — Standing over six-and-half feet tall, musician and singer/songwriter Johnny Costello looks like he should be dunking a basketball instead of strumming a guitar.
Even though Costello can still jam a hoop as he did when he was a forward playing AAU basketball in high school, his passion for music has changed who he is today.
Many musicians play because of the love and passion they have for the art. For Costello, his music reflects not only who he is, but also the journey that brought him to the realization that one day everyone will hear his tunes.
His life experiences have shaped the music he sings and writes. Born in Germany and raised in Dallas, Texas, Costello learned his craft in church playing sheet and cord music on an acoustic guitar.
He describes his music as, “…say your cup of water is folk music, and the little lemon on top of the glass is blues. It’s just got a little blues influence on it.”
Over the years Costello has strived to perfect his musical talents but he remains his own harshest critic. “You never really realize that you can do this as a career and you’re always very critical of your music. You go off the response of your audience and ask yourself —can you see yourself doing anything else? And the answer is usually no,” he said.
After doing a great deal of traveling over the years, Johnny came to El Paso two years ago to continue his education at the University of Texas at El Paso. The move to the Sun City was an unexpected blessing to his music career.
Costello credits El Paso for helping him turn his hobby into something he wants to do for the rest of his life. Of all the cities he’s lived in, Costello says the stillness of El Paso helped him focus on his music.
“There weren’t that many distractions in El Paso to where I couldn’t do what I wanted to do,” says Costello
Costello also has come to know some of the talent that resides in El Paso. Musician Nicole Smith and the bands Lucitania and The Dirty River Boys all have helped Costello grow as a musician since he came to El Paso.
Though El Paso has helped Costello continue his dream, he really found an appreciation for his genre in Chicago. It was in Chicago were artists Neil Young and Daniel Johnson helped influence Costello’s own music.
A self-taught musician, Costello learned to play the guitar, harmonica and piano on his own and has written and performed more than 40 songs. And everything he learned plays a role in his songs.
“I want people to remember the balance of my music. I don’t want to be seen as a great voice or just a great guitar player, rather I want my guitar and voice to strengthen what I’m trying to say in my music collectively,” says Costello.
Costello said he hopes that one day he can land a record deal to further his dream, but he knows that for now he’s doing exactly what he loves to do.
He’s focused right on being an artist; everything else like the fame and the money will soon fall into place. I wouldn’t bet against him.