Chris Janson's definition of friendship -- the theme that led him to the title of his new album, Real Friends -- all starts with his relationship with his wife Kelly. "The biggest epitome of 'real friends' is what you're looking at right here with Kelly and I," the singer told The Boot and other outlets as the couple walked the red carpet together before the 2019 ACM Honors ceremony.

"It starts there. She wrote on the record as well, and we're in the pictures together, and the whole deal. But on the side of that, I co-produced the record with a real friend, Tommy Cecil. I wrote the whole rest of the record with real friends," Janson goes on to say. "The greatest part about it is that we cut it and recorded it at my house. We didn't have to go into a studio ...

"I like having real friends around," he adds, "so we're going through titles, like 'What should it be? What should it be?' and it just fell right into place."

These days, Kelly serves as Janson's manager. Even before she stepped into that role, though, the two were collaborators; in fact, their early courtship revolved around music and songwriting.

"Some of our first dates were writes," Kelly remembers. "He invited me up to his cabin to write songs. And we ended up getting married! So that's how we fell in love, is over music, honestly."

"We didn't write anything either, those first few session. Well, we were writing something, alright! But it wasn't a song," Janson interjects slyly.

"We were writing a love story," Kelly continues. Both she and Janson acknowledge that not every couple gets to work together the way they do, and they're grateful that their relationship is so steeped in collaboration -- and in music.

"It just works, because he's very creative. He can concentrate solely on writing songs and getting onstage as long as I can get him to the show and show him where it is an tell him what time," Kelly explains. "He does the rest. I always know that once he steps onstage, it's gonna win, no matter where we are."

"It's a great honor to work together. It really is," Janson adds. "It's rare and probably wouldn't work for most people, but it works for us."

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