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Kane Brown: CMT Artist of the Year

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While other aspiring artists were knocking on doors up and down Music Row in search of a record deal, Kane Brown was already taking his music directly to the people on social media -- and building a huge fan base in the process. And it continues to build.

This has been a year of high points, Brown says. “Going back on tour with Jason Aldean I was really excited about. It’s my last time being direct support, and I get to do it with one of my buddies. Getting a No. 1 with 'Good As You' and sharing it with some of my close friends was awesome. And having a baby -- there's a bunch of things going on for me.”

Born and raised near the Georgia-Tennessee border, Brown showed an early interest in both country and R&B music. In high school, he sang in various ensembles, in one of which he met Lauren Alaina. His later duet with her, “What Ifs,” would give him his first chart triumph.

Inspired by Alaina's success on American Idol -- she was runner up in the tenth season -- Brown auditioned for that show and for The X Factor in 2013. While he didn't click with Idol, The X Factor was impressed enough to offer to make him a member of a boy band. Brown declined and began posting his cover versions of various country acts on YouTube in 2014. The response was both quick and heartening.

With a financial boost from a Kickstarter campaign, he released his first EP, Closer, in 2015, He followed it that same year with his co-composition, “Used to Love You Sober.” It garnered a torrent of hits within hours and by now has racked up well over 11 million of them.

Brown signed with RCA Records in early 2016 and released his first full-length album, Kane Brown, at the end of that year. The album included “What Ifs,” his pairing with Alaina, and the song went No. 1 in 2017. The accompanying music video won a CMT Music Awards trophy in 2018 for best collaborative effort.

In October 2017, Brown set a Guinness world record by being the first artist to top all five Billboard country charts at the same time. “What Ifs” dominated the Hot Country Songs, Country Airplay and Country Streaming lists, while “Heaven,” his follow-up single crowned the Country Digital Songs rankings. As if these victories were not heady enough, Brown's self-titled collection returned to No. 1 on the Top Country Albums chart.

Experiment, Brown's second RCA package, was released in late 2018. It not only topped the country chart but the Billboard 200, as well, which ranks the bestselling albums in all genres. From Experiment came two more No. 1's: “Lose It” and “Good as You.” Except for “Heaven,” Brown has co-written all his hits.

“My first album was kind of me trying to get people to understand who I was, who I came from,” Brown muses. “For Experiment, I needed more live show songs. So we got a bunch that are just very dancy, a little more grooving than our old ones. And then this next album we’re gonna work on is just me changing to just writing better lyrics and focusing on that and actually having a message.”

Apart from his CMT honors, Brown has been a finalist for Academy of Country Music, Billboard Music and Teen Choice awards. He is currently speeding up the songs charts with “Homesick," a song he has particularly strong feelings about. “For me, it just speaks to the heart. You know it was just for me being on the road all the time last year and not being around my wife or my family or dogs. It's kind of going into myself asking me if I always want to be on the road.”

Brown is known for his collaborations with other artists, among them Khalid and Marshmello. “I just love not getting put in a box,” he says. “I love country music. It's always gonna be my number one genre, I’m never gonna go and put out a pop album. But collaborating with those artists [reaches] another huge fan base over there. It gets me over there a little bit.”

So who else would he like to work with? “I'd probably say H.E.R. We're trying to do something with her right now. She's an amazing, amazing vocalist and an amazing guitar player. I think she would be great for, like, CMT Crossroads.”

Point noted. With all his incredible accomplishments this year, this is why Kane Brown is one of the 2019 CMT Artists of the Year.


THE STATS

3 major label albums, including EPs, (2 No. 1's, 1 platinum, 1 gold)

13 singles (4 No. 1's, 1 gold, 2 platinum, 2 quadruple-platinum)

2 CMT Music Awards (collaborative video and male video of the year)

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