One could easily forgive Kane Brown for not visiting the Chattanooga area for a couple of years. Since playing Riverbend in 2016, he's been kind of busy touring the country, starting his own record label, getting married, having a baby and building a career in country music that has seen him rise from YouTube sensation six years ago to headliner of his own tour.
But, in the latter part of August, he returned to Chattanooga for the reopening of the newly renovated East Lake Boys & Girls Club. And on Tuesday, he performed via livestream for students and faculty of Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School, one of the schools he attended growing up in the Chattanooga and North Georgia area.
During his visit to the Boys & Girls Club, Brown sat down with the Times Free Press for an interview. He said he has been busy working on new songs and is looking forward to getting back out on the road. Some of the dates on his headlining tour were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. He restarted those dates Friday in Lubbock, Texas, where Chris Lane and Russell Dickerson opened for him. Starting in October, he'll begin his Blessed & Free Tour, becoming the first country artist to headline all 29 NBA arenas. He will be joined on those dates by Jordan Davis, Chase Rice and Restless Road.
Brown, who made a name for himself singing cover songs he recorded on his phone and then uploaded to YouTube, has won or been nominated for a slew of country music awards, including Top Country Artist and Favorite Country Male Artist. He and fellow LFO Warrior Lauren Alaina were nominated for Vocal Event of the Year by the Academy of Country Music for their duet "What Ifs" in 2018, and the two won a Taste of Country Fan Choice Award for Most Jaw-Dropping Performance of 2018 for the song. Most recently, Brown won Video of the Year for "Worldwide Beautiful" at the 2021 ACM Awards.
Brown, 27, said he has come a long way in a short time and learned a lot about the industry, making music and country fans in particular. With his deep country drawl, Brown can sing old and new country, and he likes to throw in some hip-hop when it's right.
Some fans of the genre like the variety, and some like things to not change too much.
"I've been in the studio, and I have a lot of songs," he said. "I could release them right now, but first I have to get a hold of the country fans. The biggest challenge is that there is different types of country music, and I like different types. I'd like to write an old-school song, but I like newer stuff too."
Brown said he feels like he has earned enough respect and cachet with fans to experiment.
"I do feel like I'm at the point where I can do what I want, but you do have to earn it," he said.
He said he is focusing a lot of his attention on lyrics these days and that he feels like he is getting a handle on where he wants his career to go.
"Every time I reach [a milestone], I want to reach higher."
He said his first milestone was getting 50,000 likes on social media for his music. Then 100,000, and then a million. Now, he wants to record a record filled with nothing but solid hits. What those sound like exactly, he believes he will know when he hears them.
"I've gotten to the point in my career where my foot is outside the box, and that's good. My head is all over the place, and as an artist, that is also good.
"I want to have fun and experiment, and I feel like I can do both."
Contact Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.