C.J. Watson

Born on March 11, 1965

Departed on July 30, 2018 and resided in Nashville, TN

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CJ Watson Age- 53 passed away on July 30, 2018 in Nashville, TN.

CJ is survived by his fiancé, Kristen Orr; parents, Frank Watson (Barb), Sherry Smith Butcher (Danny); brother, Aaron Butcher (Amanda); adopted father, Dave Morthland (Angie), Kristen’s family (who deeply adored and loved him beyond measure), the young artists that he mentored (Genesis Green, Mindy Braasch, & Nancy Prescott) who became like daughters to him, and many co-writers and friends that he deeply treasured and loved to cook for.

CJ was a Kerrville Award Winning Songwriter who worked with great artists, such as Gretchen Wilson, James Otto, and Lisa Shaffer, to name a few. In 2016 he won “Best Original Song” for VooDoo (co-written with Bruce Michael Miller) at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards. This song also earned CJ a “Best Original Song” Oscar nomination. CJ had songs featured in the “Rockband” video game and authored the bestselling “Everything Songwriting Book.” He was a fixture at the renowned Frank Brown Songwriting Festival for many years, where he hosted industry panels, educational workshops and provided music education opportunities to rising young music students. CJ played at the Bluebird Café for over 25 years and was loved by all in attendance. CJ Watson was a singer, songwriter, producer, guitarist, coach, mentor, and so much more. His passing has left a void in his music family, but his music and contributions will live on forever.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 11, 2018 at West Harpeth Funeral Home.
Visitation with the family will be held on Saturday prior to the service from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at West Harpeth Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers the family requests that you make a donation in honor of CJ Watson to MusiCares, 1904 Wedgewood Ave, Nashville, TN 37323.

29 Comments to C.J. Watson

  1. Deirdre
    August 1, 2018 1:41 pm

    C.J., you are not replaceable & I will miss you forever. Maybe “My Dog Jesus” will stop filling my head one day… RIP & know how much we all loved you.

  2. Cheryl Yarbrough
    August 1, 2018 1:52 pm

    I thought so much of CJ and Kristen. I saw him perform several times, usually with Jack & Diane. His music was beautiful and original as was he. Prayers lifted for his family and loved ones. He joined my husband whose been gone 2 weeks,, they’re probably playing together now in heaven’s band.

  3. Kevin Brown
    August 1, 2018 2:09 pm

    My heart goes out to all that loved you. You will be greatly missed by all. R.I.P. my friend.

  4. Karen Moore Josephson
    August 1, 2018 2:09 pm

    CJ…we met so many years ago…through music and playing rounds. We remained friends through banter and mutual compassion and passions. I always smiled when you called me “plain spoken” with your tongue in cheek! Takes one to know one! Your spirit and gifts to all who knew you will live on forever. Your legacy is huge. We miss you.

  5. Mary Lou
    August 1, 2018 3:23 pm

    Rest in peace CJ. You have brightened so many lives with your music! I am comforted that your passing was “Not Like This”. That song touched me more deeply than any of your others and will remain with me always. My heart goes out to you, dear Kristen, and to the entire Watson family.

  6. Christy Eidson
    August 1, 2018 3:55 pm

    To say that you will be missed is such an understatement. Your talent and humor made the world a better place.

  7. f
    August 1, 2018 4:26 pm

    Dear grieving family, I am truly sorry for your great loss and would like to express my condolences. It is my sincere hope you find comfort in knowing that God has promised to “swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:8) and that he will “resurrect our dear loved ones who have passed away.” (John 5:28; jw.org)

  8. David Norris
    August 1, 2018 5:15 pm

    I love you, my dear friend. Life will never be the same without you in it. You were one of the best and most brilliant friends I’ve ever had. I can’t wait until we reunite in the glorious kingdom of heaven so I can keep learning from you. RIP Brodog! 😔

  9. David Norris
    August 1, 2018 5:17 pm

    I love you, my dear friend. Life will never be the same without you in it. You were one of the best and most brilliant friends I’ve ever had. I can’t wait until we reunite in the glorious kingdom of heaven so I can keep learning from you. RIP Brodog! 😔

  10. Patricia Alice Albrecht
    August 1, 2018 6:45 pm

    CJ, you were the consummate example of grace. How many times I was welcomed by the surprise of your bear hug in the middle of co-writes in my kitchen, fixing food for a table full of writers, or quietly sitting alone on the front porch, legal pad and pen, perfecting lyrics. You were an award-winning friend, and a master everyone looked up to. I think even dictionaries were scared of you. No doubt, right now, you are teaching the angels how to improve upon their choir and will add a tight rope walk to prove your point! Sincere condolences to Kristin, your families,and the music kingdom which failed to honor you as you deserved. Love you.

  11. Denise
    August 1, 2018 7:23 pm

    Were so sorry for your loss. We met him at Pensacola at the Frank Brown Songwriters Festival several years ago. He’s the main reason we kept going back year after year. He was very talented and he’s going to be missed terribly.

  12. Alexia (Counce) Wilgers
    August 2, 2018 11:44 am

    CJ, You accompanied me on my early music journey many years ago. Oh how I loved sharing the stage with you! I still sing the jazz song you wrote specifically for me (When love comes out of the blue)
    You will always be and have always been a part of my music life. You live on in the song and in my memory. I know you are in heaven singing with the angels and bringing vibrant personality to the choir!

  13. Bart Herbison
    August 2, 2018 1:04 pm

    CJ my friend. The world is a better place because of you and your songs. I’ve known thousands of songwriters through the years, but you were always one of the most special to me. You were a beautiful person who will always live as a part if me.

  14. Mike Ambrose
    August 2, 2018 2:32 pm

    I’ve missed you my friend and now I’ll miss you more. Kristen God Bless..

  15. Amy Loss
    August 2, 2018 10:17 pm

    I am so sorry to hear of C.J.’s passing. Kristen, family and friends we know that C.J. left his imprint in this world. His life touched so many others. He was told not to try to learn to play guitar because he would not be able to do it. If you wanted to motivate C.J. tell him he couldn’t do something and he would show you he could. I am grateful that he had the chance to make music, make friends, do what he loved in life and meet the love of his life. He was a master in his craft of song writing and I have no doubt his words will echo throughout generations to come. I am praying for the comfort of family and friends especially in the days ahead. Much love and many prayers for all of you.

    • rusty bridges
      June 2, 2019 3:18 pm

      dammit, Amy….just found out today about CJ…..
      what took him out????
      ( it s Tom from st.gabe’s) yup,
      still kickin up the dust….best wishez for you & luke!

  16. Renee(Pole) Arthur
    August 3, 2018 1:41 am

    I have a different way of meeting CJ ! We shared the same school together.He always played his gutier at the lunch table.He would start playing the whole lunch room of about 200 students in it everyone quit talking .We would listen .When he was finished we all stood and clapped.We knew he would go far! We loved him for his loving songs and personality! RIP My friend! Kristen our thoughts and Prayers are with you If we can do anything let us know! Hugs

  17. Bruce Miller
    August 4, 2018 3:00 am

    I’m still reeling from your passing CJ. You were a master at so many things, writing, singing, guitar slinging, cooking and friending. Everyone and everything. I cherish every minute writing and fighting and finding the exciting with you. You were a part of all of us in my little family and enriched us. Patricia, Forest and I, and the rest of the world. I hope you have found peace in your perfect vessel now and are with the angels, rewriting some of those awful hymns. I love you brother. I’m hoping for a visitation from the spirit world..I know you’re in there, enjoying all the attention. You’re life was your masterpiece, you are so loved.

  18. Richard "Rick" Inman
    August 4, 2018 3:12 pm

    My deepest sympathies. I knew C J by teaching in his high school, as a co-sponsor of the drama club that he joined, and as a friend of his step family. I greatly admired his talents, and will always be among those who regret that they have been untimely cut short.

  19. Tom Moore
    August 6, 2018 12:18 pm

    Sharon and I will miss C J. We met C J at The Frank Brown Music Festival several years ago. For the last several years, he was our guest when he came to the festival each November. He always took the time to listen to my latest songs and provide his valuable suggestions. I will miss the time we shared together.

  20. gary cavanaugh
    August 7, 2018 12:51 pm

    dear cj,
    you were always in my heart and you still will be. i loved your music and my favorite cj watson song misspent youth recorded by james otto.prayers to your family. remembering all the times we shared at 1122. thanks for always picking with me on my bluebird shows!!
    love you my friend, gary

  21. Sharie Uberto
    August 9, 2018 9:01 pm

    we met back in the woodruff place days we went Christmas caroling we had jam sessions in the basement always with friends and such around your laughter and smile will remain and truth be told-this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you -rest in heaven you are loved and missed….always

  22. Ronnie Dean
    August 26, 2018 1:25 pm

    Extraordinary talent and great guy. …..

  23. Patty Kress
    August 26, 2018 4:54 pm

    Such a great soul. . . ., extraordinary talent. . . . ., all around nice guy, who always seemed to work to help others succeed in the music business with a great passion. You are missed.

  24. F. F.
    August 28, 2018 4:19 pm

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your dear loved one. May the God of all comfort give you a measure of comfort through the many prayers in your behalf. (2Corinthians 1: 3, 4; Revelation 21: 3, 4)

  25. Megan Frisbie
    September 16, 2018 11:20 am

    I have never met C.J. Watson, but I had hoped to meet him one day. I love his music, and I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed the Everything Songwriting Book. He was quite an inspiration to me. Thank you for honoring him with such a beautiful obituary.

  26. Mike and Carol Cleary
    October 18, 2018 9:20 am

    CJ was a kind and gentle soul who loved music and his friends, who number in the thousands or more. We heard him often at the Frank Brown Songwriters’ festival, and he was always the highlight of the festival. At the festival, CJ performed our favorites, like “My Dog Jesus” and “Coupe de Deville” that showed his faith and humanity.
    We just learned of his passing, so we would also offer our condolences to all who knew and loved CJ. We loved the man, his songs and his open giving nature where he helped so many aspiring artists. Good bye and may God hold him in the palm of his hand!

  27. gary t cavanaugh
    March 2, 2019 9:59 pm

    just found this online so this comment is late Cj I loved you brother and will miss you Your music was always a inspiration to me We ha many great times and also may disagreements but that was good . You were always trying to make me betterSAdly we did not see each other very often after we left Chester avenue but I always followed you through facebook, scott and others and we got caught up every year at Frank Brown Gone too sonn my friend and you will be missed!!!

  28. rusty bridges
    June 2, 2019 3:22 pm




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