John Ighodaro popularly known as Johnny Drille is a folk/alternative singer, songwriter, producer, and sound engineer. He has become an icon in the Nigerian music industry – all thanks to his unique music style. He was a contestant on the 6th Edition of the MTN Project Fame Academy in 2013. In 2015, he came to limelight when he released a cover for Di’Ja’s “awww“. This caught the attention of Don Jazzy who signed him to the Mavin record label. Johnny is one of the few artistes in the music industry with over 10 million streams globally across different streaming platforms like Youtube, Spotify, Boomplay and Apple Music.
Early life and background of Johnny Drille
Born July 5,1990 in Edo state, into a Christian family of seven. His parents are clergymen. He’s got a bachelors degree in English and Literature from the University of Benin. Growing up in a conservative family, he was introduced to Dolly Parton’s songs by his dad. He also listened to Jolene, Don Williams, Phil Collins. All these songs shaped his childhood and his music career. His singing career started in the church. He initially joined the children choir before proceeding to learn how to play piano at age 11. He also joined a group called ’Soul Awakening Singers’ with his sister. In 2006, he learnt the art of music production. Johnny has had his fair share of failure as he flunked his secondary school leaving certificate exams and lost at 2013 MTN Project Fame competition.
His Rise to Fame
He started music professionally in 2013 after harnessing the lessons and skills gained from the reality show. In 2015, he made a cover of Di’Ja’s “awww” which garnered him a huge fan base and commendation of Don Jazzy. The cover got him the much needed recognition so he followed it up with the Christian country/folksy song ‘Love Don’t Lie’ in June of the same year. Subsequently, he officially signed a deal with the record label in 2017. His debut single “Wait for Me” was released in 2015. The single was massively accepted and topped most of the Nigerian alternative charts.
In February 2016, he released the folksy love song titled ‘My Beautiful Love’ which is in celebration of true love. Johnny had tried his hands at multiple genres of music (highlife, hip-hop, afrobeat) before settling for folk genre which made him stand out from his contemporaries. His musical influences include Mumford & Sons, Owl City, Phillip Phillips, Passenger, Jon Bellion, Laura Mvula, Cobhams Asuquo, etc. His choice of folk genre is soared by a sincere desire to redefine the concept of love songs within Nigeria.
Johnny collaborated with Nigerian Afro-house powerhouse, Niniola to release a song titled ‘Start All Over’. The duo had been together in the same season of Project Fame. Drille have continued to whet his fans appetite with his timely release of good music. The contemporary singer have been featured by prominent musicians like Chinko Ekun, Waje, Blessing Tangban, Morayo etc. He has also worked with Simi, Di’Ja and Ladipoe.
Ranging from Papa to Forever to the latest Something better, Johnny has exhibited a high level of musical creativity and has distinguished himself from every other singers. Till date, Johnny remains true to his musical roots. He has even done a lot of underground work for many artists such as Ada and helped compose the worship tone for “Only You Can Do” by Ada. In an interview, Johnny was asked the inspiration behind his brand name. He revealed :
“I wish there was some fancy meaning to the name, but there really isn’t. At some point I was jumping names. I was Johnny Vince and later I was Johnny Wills. It just happened that by the time I jumped to Johnny Drille my music began to gain more attention. I know it’s not a very Nigerian sounding name and then the music itself doesn’t help when you hear its western except for the pidgin English that makes it sound so. Sometimes people think it’s a white man trying to sing pidgin. My real name is not Johnny Drille it’s John Ighodaro but you know it’s going to be mouth-full if the radio presenter wants to announce it”.
In 2017, he released another banging alternative song “Romeo and Juliet ” which got impressive airplay and resounding applause. He also released an old classic single “Dear Future wife” same year.
2018 saw the release of “Awa Love” and “Halleluya” featuring songstress, Simi. Awa Love is a combination of contemporary music with traditional African motifs. These singles captivated the hearts of all.
“Forever” was released alongside his hit track “Shine” in February 2019. Forever is the perfect song for love birds. Despite not having an official music video, Its audio has over 94,000 YouTube plays. It was released in the month of Love (February) which created an insane buzz for the song.
On the 14th of June, 2019, Johnny released “Papa” the highly motivating and inspiring alternative single. It was dedicated to all fathers worldwide. He also released “Finding Efe“, a mid-tempo song that touches every part of the soul and makes one remember the loved ones that one is far away from. The visual for the song was published on the 19th of April, 2019 and it amassed over 215,000 views same day.
2019 was an awesome year for the vocalist as he was releasing songs back to back. In September,2019, he came through with a wedding song “Count on you “. It featured the newly weds- BBNaija’s Bam bam and Teddy A.
In March 28, 2020, the “Romeo and Juliet” crooner released a new single “Something better“. “Something Better” lyrics are all about a guy deeply in love but doesn’t believe in himself when it comes to love.The song centred on commitment and truthfulness in relationships. Johnny who is widely known for his unique and stylish pattern of music has indeed carved a niche for himself in the Nigerian music industry.
Johnny shares a special connection with his clan of fans, arguably the most intimate you will find in Nigerian music. It comes to life through his personal calls, his hit social content series, #JohnnysMusicMondays and their support for his brand.
Johnny Drille’s Relationship
Johnny is not dating anyone presently. He once mentioned in an interview that the last time he shot his shot, it was totally off target. He further stated that he’ll prefer to date a simple and sweet lady.
Awards and nominations
In 2015, Johnny Drille received nominations for “Best Producer” at the South-South Music Awards
In 2016, he received nominations for “The Best Alternative Song” at the Headie Awards
Best Vocal Performance (Male) Romeo & Juliet, The Headies, 2018
Best R & B Single Romeo & Juliet, The Headies, 2018
Best Alternative Song Romeo & Juliet, The Headies, 2018
Next Rated, The Headies, 2018
Best Alternative Song ‘Finding Efe’, The Headies, 2019. He won the award for this category.
Johnny’s Net Worth
Johnny Drille’s net worth currently stands at $105,000.