Country crooner Kane Brown says he’s proud of delivering diversity to the music scene. But life for the YouTube breakout star wasn’t always welcoming.
The 25-year-old, who was born to a white mom and a part-Cherokee, part-black father who was out of his life, told People magazine he was once confused about his racial identity.
“I’m biracial,” said Brown. “I didn’t know that until I was 7 or 8 years old. I thought I was full white, which honestly, I can’t even really say because I didn’t see colors.”
Brown told the magazine that growing up, he was stunned when students at his Georgia middle school began making fun of him for his skin color.
“I found out that I was biracial and I still wasn’t thinking anything of it, but then I started getting called the N-word,” he admitted. “I didn’t even know what it meant. I learned what it meant, and that’s when it started affecting me. I got in fights over it when I was little.”
Brown shared he started channeling his troubles into music as a means to cope.
“I just kind of got over it,” he said. “They just made me stronger. I guess it was God. Hopefully, I can help kids and they can end up being stronger in the long run, too.”
People magazine added a sudden growth spurt also helped keep the bullies away.
“Once I got to high school and hit my growth spurt, nobody really messed with me anymore,” said the singer, who achieved stardom in Nashville. “I just kept to myself. I kept my circle small. I had my friends that I knew wouldn’t do anything to hurt me and I would also stand up for them, and those are still my friends today.”
However, Brown would be faced with racism again when he began to pursue country music.
“When I first got into country, I started getting some of those comments, like ‘He’s an N-word.’ Stuff like that,” said Brown. “I used to screenshot and put it on Twitter, like, ‘There’s still racism in the world.’ But I didn’t get into country music just to prove a point. I try to stay away from all negativity.”
But Brown has plenty of reasons to smile these days. His latest album, “Experiment,” debuted atop the Billboard 200, making him one of only three country artists to achieve the feat this year. He also won three American Music Awards and has led a sold-out tour. In October of this year, he married music management student and fellow singer Katelyn Jae.
“Now you can call me whatever you want,” he said. “It just brushes off of me.”