Kane Brown is going where no other country star has gone before. He's headlining every NBA arena — including Minneapolis' Target Center on Friday — on his current Blessed and Free Tour.
The buff, 6-foot-1 hoops head, who has played in the NBA's celebrity all-star game, tries to squeeze in a game whenever he can.
"I am hoping to get there and play with anyone on the team," he said, knowing that the Timberwolves have no games for three days before they host the Nets on Sunday.
Brown hopes to build a basketball court at his Nashville home. His daily workouts landed him two recent writeups in Men's Health magazine.
"I do a combo of weights and boxing," he explained via e-mail. "I make it a point to work out every day now. It has changed so much for the live show, and how I feel mentally and physically."
With seven No. 1 hits including "What Ifs" (with high school classmate Lauren Alaina) and "Famous Friends" (with friend Chris Young), Brown, 28, has become country music's first biracial star. It's one reason he landed on Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people of 2021.
Brown's oft-told back story is that he was raised by his white mother in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., while his father, who is Black, is in prison. Thinking he was white, the youngster wasn't aware of his biracial heritage until he was 7 or 8 and someone called him the N-word.
Race has become a hot-button topic in Nashville with the emergence of Brown and such Black singers as Grammy-nominated Mickey Guyton, who has delivered the prideful songs "Black Like Me" and "Love My Hair," and the controversy over top-selling star Morgan Wallen, who performed this month on the Grand Ole Opry after being persona non grata for uttering a racial slur last year.
Known for being musically inclusive but uncontroversial in interviews, Brown did not answer submitted questions about Wallen, George Floyd and Black issues in Nashville, but in e-mailed responses, he did discuss his new single, his new daughter and his respect for R&B singer H.E.R., who collaborated with him on the song for which his tour is named.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: I realize it's only been a couple of weeks since Kodi Jane was born on Dec. 30, but how has having a second child changed your life?
A: Our first daughter, Kingsley, is now a big sister, and watching her step up and want to help her and my wife has been really fun to watch, and it pulls on your heart.
Q: How do you feel about being on Time's most influential 100 list? What responsibility does that carry with it?
A: One of the coolest things was people reaching out, saying how much I am a role model to them or their kid, or how what I am doing really means something to them. I can't put into words how much that means to me. To be listed with the amazing people on that list seems surreal.
Q: As a biracial person in country music, what is your role in terms of representing, speaking up, effecting change, etc.?
A: I try to treat everyone kindly, and a lot of what I feel I put in my music. I wrote my song "Worldwide Beautiful" a few years ago, but I knew I wanted to put it out immediately and not wait for an album because of everything that was going on at the world at the time. The lyrics of that song are what I would hope for the world my daughters grow up in.
Q: What's up with your overdue third album?
A: We are working on it. I just put out a new song, "Whiskey Sour," and the fan reaction to it has been amazing. We don't have a set date for it yet.
Q: "Whiskey Sour" seems to be a tip of the hat to Randy Travis.
A: I'm such a huge Randy Travis fan. Thank you for saying that; the comparison means a lot. "Whiskey Sour" is actually the first song I've ever officially co-produced. It felt like a natural next step.
Q: You try lots of different styles of music, production and flavors. I hear the new album has vibes from rock, Motown, '80s country, hip-hop, etc. Why are you so eclectic?
A: I have amazing fans that let me be who I am. When we put out my second album, I named it "Experiment" because I felt like my fans allow me to bring different elements to what we do. I also get to work with amazing artists on collaborations.
Q: Tell us about the anxiety and maybe depression that led to writing the song "Memory" that you released last year featuring rapper/producer Blackbear.
A: I think there are so many things that people don't always realize they are dealing with on a daily basis, or if they do, they just don't know how to talk about it. I have music as an outlet, but that isn't the case for everyone. The part where it says I'm not myself … that feeling that you know that something is off. I wanted to make sure people knew they weren't the only ones going through that.
Q: I heard you danced to a H.E.R. song at your wedding.
A: My wife and I are both huge fans, but I have to give my wife credit for first letting me know about H.E.R. We danced to "The Best Part" at our wedding.
Q: And then you got to record with H.E.R. on the song "Blessed and Free" last year.
A: When I told my wife, she was screaming because she was so excited. H.E.R. is one of the most down to Earth, intelligent, gracious and talented people I've ever met.
Opening: Chase Rice, Restless Road.
When: 7 p.m. Fri.
Where: Target Center, 600 1st Av. N., Mpls.
Tickets: $36.50-$99.50; axs.com