In the past nearly two years, Kane Brown’s career has shifted swiftly into full-throttle. He has transitioned from viral sensation based on the strength of YouTube cover videos, which have garnered millions of views, to one of country music’s most promising newcomers. In June Brown previewed the original track “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” on Facebook, where the clip earned 11.1 million views. He’s gone from recording performances in his bedroom to opening for Florida Georgia Line’s Dig Your Roots Tour, and is now on his own headlining Ain’t No Stopping Us Now Tour, presented by Monster Energy Outbreak.
Signed to RCA Nashville/Zone 4, Brown welcomed Nashville’s music industry to preview tracks from his upcoming full-length, self-titled album, which releases Dec. 2.
The evening was a mixture of album previews as well live performances, including a cover of Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses.” Highlighted songs included “Granddaddy’s Chair,” “Cold Spot,” “Hometown.”
Flanked by musicians and songwriters onstage, Brown’s muscular voice belies his humble, even shy offstage persona. Brown penned seven of the 11 tracks on the project, assembled into perhaps one of the most personal albums to come out of Nashville recently.
“It’s been a team effort and fun to work with the Earls’ as we have been on this project,” said Sony Music Nashville Chairman/CEO Randy Goodman, referring to Brown’s manager Martha Earls and Universal Music Publishing Group Nashville’s Kent Earls, who also represents Brown.
“I had the pleasure of meeting Kane about a year and a half ago,” recalled Kent Earls. “He would come by when he was in town and he would play me the newest thing that he wrote. In about a two-day period he brought ‘Used To Love You Sober’ and ‘Love You Hate You.’ It was like, ‘Wow, this guy is starting to figure it out.’ When you are a publisher, what you look for in writers and artists is that moment when they turn that corner. He was starting to write with the right guys that he connected with on an emotional level. We were so excited, we all got together after that and realized that all this stuff is happening [quickly] for this guy [and thought we’re] going to have a limited amount of time to write. Who are the right people who understand his depth, his uniqueness? We came up with a list. And all these people are on this record. And what Kane brought into the room and into those co-writes were his story.”
Goodman recalls the suggestion that Brown write with Tom Douglas, a notion supported by fellow Sony Music Nashville VP, A&R Jim Catino. The pairing produced “Cold Spot,” which the duo penned with Douglas’ “The House That Built Me” co-writer Allen Shamblin.
“Tom and Allen thank you for that song and coming into Kane’s life and bringing out of him that obviously very vulnerable side,” Goodman offered to the two hit makers.
“If y’all knew how I grew up, I didn’t get a lot of chances, so for y’all to give me a chance means the world to me,” Brown told the audience.
To that end, the Brown-penned “Learning” is one of the album’s most personal tracks, written alongside Shy Carter and Sam Ellis. The transparent track showcases a strength built through his turbulent childhood, and resolve to forgive and move forward.
“I told [them] how I was raised,” Brown recalled of the writing session. “I went through child abuse, and I didn’t have a lot of money, so I lived in a car with my mom for a while. I went through racism, bullying. Once we got to high school and middle school, I had a lot of friends that started experimenting with drugs and guns. Some of my best friends OD’d or were shot and killed–not even on purpose. I had one friend that was cleaning his gun and it went off and shot his girlfriend that was in the room asleep. So we just wrote this song and came out with this title at the end. Just where I’m at today, I realize I can be a role model for a lot of kids and that’s what I want to do.”
Goodman recalled how producer Dann Huff originally signed on to produce only two tracks on the project but after hearing “Learning,” he cleared his schedule to be more involved. Brown recently posted a preview clip of “Learning,” which pulled in more than 1 million views in less than an hour.
A further stamp of approval for Brown’s artistry came from the superstar artists whose writing credits were featured on the album. Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley co-wrote “Hometown,” while Chris Young co-wrote the track “Comeback,” along with Mark Fuhrer, Josh Hoge, and Matthew McVaney.
Young was in the audience to support Brown at the album preview. “He is my idol out of everybody,” said Brown. “I’m his biggest fan and for him to even want to get into a room to write with me means the world to me.”
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