Kane Brown turned Face­book likes into a coun­try mu­sic ca­reer

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

As a kid, Kane Brown and his mother used to sing to­gether as pre­tend "Amer­i­can Idol" con­tes­tants. But when Brown ac­tu­ally tried out for the show years later, he kept get­ting re­jected or stereo­typed. "They told me they didn't need an­other Scotty McCreery," Brown said. "I tried out for 'X Fac­tor' and they put me in a boy band and I ended up quit­ting." So the 23-year-old singer from the Ten­nessee-Ge­or­gia border near Chat­tanooga turned to Face­book to find an au­di­ence for iPhone videos of him­self singing cov­ers of songs like "Check Yes or No," by Ge­orge Strait, a video that's been viewed 11 mil­lion times.

"I had like 3,000 friends on Face­book," Brown said. "I felt like if they thought I was good enough, they would at least help me share my videos a lit­tle bit. One day it went vi­ral." Brown turned those pop­u­lar Face­book videos into a ded­i­cated fan base that pro­pelled him to a No. 1 de­but on Bill­board Top Coun­try Al­bums chart in De­cem­ber. He had the best coun­try de­but in two years in a genre where fans still pri­mar­ily dis­cover new artists through the ra­dio. He's had three songs in the top 5 of Bill­board's Coun­try Dig­i­tal Songs Sales, but he's only had one song crack the Top 40 for coun­try air­play.


Show­cas­ing his deep bari­tone voice, Brown's re­veal­ing self-ti­tled al­bum is mostly au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal with songs about his deep love for his grand­par­ents, his strug­gles with racism and grow­ing up with­out a lot of money. One of the stand­out tracks on the al­bum, "Learn­ing," starts off with his ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing beaten as a child by a step­dad. "I was hon­estly ner­vous about even putting it on the al­bum, but it had such a per­sonal mes­sage to me," Brown said. "I just want to help kids that are go­ing through bul­ly­ing or racism."

Like many so­cial me­dia stars, Brown is en­gaged with his fans on­line, of­ten re­spond­ing to fans' com­ments, or ask­ing them to share videos and in­creas­ing his reach. But as a kid in mid­dle school, he was too shy to sing in pub­lic un­til a close friend con­vinced him to show off his vo­cal skills in cho­rus. "I got him to stay af­ter class one day, and I got him to sing "I Can Only Imag­ine," for me and our teacher," said Lau­ren Alaina, who later went on to take the run­ner-up spot on the 10th sea­son of "Amer­i­can Idol." "And the whole rest of the year they had us sing to­gether."

Alaina and Brown got to sing to­gether again years later on the song "What Ifs" on Brown's new record. "I think it's cool be­cause he got found through Face­book and on­line and I got found on 'Amer­i­can Idol,' and those aren't the tra­di­tional ways to get a record deal," Alaina said. Brown's DIY suc­cess led him to open for Florida Ge­or­gia Line, one of coun­try's big­gest tours, and now he's on his own head­lin­ing tour. And no one is prouder than his first duet part­ner. "My mom texted me and said, "I'm glad you won't have to strug­gle like we used to have to,'" Brown said. "And that meant a lot to me." — AP

This im­age taken from video shows Kane Brown dur­ing an in­ter­view in Nashville, Ten­nessee. — AP

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