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Kane Brown performs at the 56th annual Academy of Country Music Awards on Friday April 16, 2021 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn. The awards show airs on April 18 with both live and prerecorded segments. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

Few people have watched the career arc of Kane Brown for longer than retired country radio on-air personality Bill "Dex" Poindexter, so when Time magazine named the singer to its "Time 100" list of influential people this week, Poindexter was not the least bit surprised.

"First of all, he is a good guy," Poindexter said. "A way, way good guy who cares about his fans, his music and people in general. And, he is very talented, and I don't think there is any limit to what he will do. His songwriting is superb, and he has surrounded himself with the correct people."

Among the year's other honorees on the "Time 100" list are Vice President Kamala Harris; former President Donald Trump; Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex; Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny; gymnast Simone Biles; quarterback Tom Brady, and singer Dolly Parton.

Justin Cole, regional brand manager for WUSY-FM 100.7, was with Brown last week when his manager told the singer of the award.

"I videotaped it for him," Cole said. "He was very excited, but he is so laid back and even-tempered, but he got this patented Kane Brown smile on his face."

Cole said the award is well earned and "exciting because he really has impacted the industry, and it speaks to his talent and him as a person. It shows that really anybody that has a dream and the determination and the desire and fortitude can win and succeed."

Brown grew up in the Chattanooga-North Georgia area. He moved around a lot and attended several high schools in the area including Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, where he sang in the choir with fellow country singer Lauren Alaina.

Brown garnered attention to his talent by posting videos of himself singing other people's songs on social media. He is known today for his deep voice, smooth delivery and ability to blend several genres, including rap and hip-hop, into his songs.

"Kane has brought a whole new group of people to country music," Poindexter said. "The audiences at his shows are 7 to 70, and his fanbase is huge."

Poindexter, who spent years on the radio at US-101, met Brown years ago. He was the first radio personality to interview him on air and said Brown "did not have it easy growing up," but that he has always been respectful of others and has always had a strong voice.

"His great-grandfather and grandfather owned a store in Rossville, Georgia, called The Cold Spot, and Kane would record these videos of him singing, and his grandfather, Steve, would bring them to me. I said, 'Well, he's a little rough, but he's got it.'"

Apparently, fellow pop and country singer Darius Rucker agrees. He wrote the introduction for Brown's segment of the "Time 100" show that aired Monday night on ABC.

Rucker wrote in his comments that "Kane Brown has that unquantifiable 'it' factor. He's so laid-back and doesn't take himself too seriously, but he also really cares about his craft and other people. And when it comes to his music, he can do that low, cool, borderline-rapping thing, and then he sings and his vocal ability just blows you away."

Noted as the "future of Country" by Billboard and one of "31 People Changing the South" by Time, Brown was the first artist in Billboard history to top all five country charts consecutively. He has two (No. 3 "Heaven" and No. 7 "What Ifs") of the most-streamed country singles of all time.

Rucker, along with Charley Pride, have been pioneers in country music by proving Black artists can be successful, and he adds Brown to that list.

"Early on," Rucker wrote, "the line I heard from so many radio programmers was, 'My audience will never accept a Black country singer.' Now everybody knows that's not true, and Kane is making it more untrue because he's having success like nobody else. I'm sure there are kids looking up to Kane right now just like when I looked up at Charley Pride. One of the most pivotal moments of my career was when Charley shared some of the lessons he learned over the years with me. Those moments where we learn from country's past need to continue. Charley opened the door when there were those in the country music industry that tried to close it. I hope I pushed it open a bit further so now artists like Kane, Mickey Guyton, Jimmie Allen can kick it down."

Poindexter worked at RCA Records, which is Brown's label, when Pride was recording for them and said, "Charley is just a great singer just like Darius and Kane. I don't think the color of a man's skin has one thing in the world to do with good music."

Brown wrote on his Twitter account that he is honored to be a part of the "Time 100" list and thanked Rucker and his fans for their support.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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