Rising country music star Kane Brown brings his laid-back style to Covelli Centre

Raising KANE

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Staff and wire report

YOUNGSTOWN

At this moment in country music, Kane Brown is about as hot it gets.

The rapidly rising star with the deep voice and laid-back style released his sophomore album, “Experiment,” late last year, which quickly spawned No. 1 single in “Lose It” with the follow up, “Good As You,” currently ascending the charts.

The 26-year-old, who grew up in Georgia and Tennessee, is currently on his first headlining tour, which stops at Covelli Centre on Saturday. The concert sold out the 6,000-plus arena on the same day that tickets went on sale, said Phoebe Breckenridge, who handles marketing for the arena.

“Experiment” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums charts in November. Brown’s self-titled first album (re-issued in 2017) also hit the top spot and spawned the No. 1 hits “What Ifs” and “Heaven.”

After his current tour ends, Brown will go out on the road with Jason Aldean for a summer shed tour that includes stops at Blossom on Aug. 9 and KeyBank Pavilion on Sept. 14.

While the Associated Press named him one of its Breakthrough Entertainers of 2018, Brown has had to walk a lot more miles than most new artists to get to where he is today, said his manager, Martha Earls.

“He came to town and immediately everyone was suspicious of him because they couldn’t understand how somebody could break on social media,” she told the AP last year. “There were obviously stereotypes against him because he’s bi-racial, and he has a ton of tattoos, and he doesn’t look like your stereotypical country artist.”

Brown built his fan base through his Facebook page, doing covers of country songs that were amassing millions of views.

His debut album achieved platinum status and topped Billboard’s country albums chart for 12 weeks. He topped all five Billboard country charts simultaneously at one point this year, making him the first artist ever to do so. “Heaven,” which peaked at No. 15 on the all-genre Hot 100 chart, was the second most-streamed country song of the year behind the record-breaking hit “Meant to Be,” by Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line.

Although country radio was slow to respond, fans immediately connected to the soft-spoken singer-songwriter. On his first album, Brown opened up to fans about his background, being abused as a kid and not fitting in at school because of his clothes and his skin color.

He’s won big at fan-voted awards show, sweeping the country categories at the 2018 American Music Awards with three wins and picking up a CMT Music Award for “What Ifs,” which featured Lauren Alaina. And although Brown would have likely been a strong contender for best new artist at the 2019 Grammys, he was ineligible because he released too many songs, Earls said.

“I feel like our industry sometimes doesn’t recognize the artists that are making the biggest impact,” Earls said.

Brown, who recently got married to singer Katelyn Jae, sounds like a young man deeply in love and coming into his own on his new album. His voice carries more confidence as he explores his love of ’90s-era country music, while also incorporating elements of R&B and pop.

“I wanted to call it ‘Experiment’ because it’s all kinds of different sounds,” Brown said. “We have a bunch of instruments on there that are basically going extinct, like the fiddle, the steel guitar, the slide. ... We basically did like a new school meets old school country on some of them.”

Although he’s one of country music’s next big stars, Brown still has an underdog mentality, which goes back to his upbringing in rural Georgia and being raised by a single mom.

“I feel like I am the outsider on the inside, if that makes sense,” Brown said. “But I have coped with it.”

His manager, Martha Earls, said his lack of CMA nominations last year mean there’s still a lot of people in Nashville who don’t understand him.

“The fans really want him. But the CMAs are industry-voted,” Earls said. “And so there’s a lot of politics involved in that.”

IF YOU GO

What: Kane Brown, with Danielle Bradberry

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Covelli Centre

Tickets: Sold out