Kane Allen Brown (born October 21, 1993) is an American singer and songwriter who first came to the attention of the public through social media. He released his first EP, titled Closer, in June 2015 and followed it with a new single, “Used to Love You Sober”, in October 2015.
Brown was raised in rural northwest Georgia and in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, area. He is multiracial, with a European-American mother, Tabatha Brown, and an African-American father who is also part Cherokee. In 2018, he told People he did not know he was biracial until he was 7 or 8 years old: “I thought I was full white… 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 … I learned what it meant, and that’s when it started affecting me. I got in fights over it when I was little.”His father has been incarcerated since 1996, and he was raised by his single mother.
Sometimes homeless, his family moved around northwest Georgia when he was younger from Rossville to Fort Oglethorpe to LaFayette before finally settling in Red Bank, Tennessee. As a result, he attended many schools, among them Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, where he sang in the choir with Lauren Alaina, the runner-up on Season 10 of American Idol. He also attended Red Bank, Ridgeland, and Soddy Daisy High Schools. After graduation, he lived with his grandmother, who had also helped raise him.
Brown grew up listening to country music but became interested in R&B music in middle school. However, after winning a school talent show in 11th grade with a rendition of Chris Young’s “Gettin’ You Home”, he began to perform country music. He auditioned for both American Idol and The X Factor after the success of his school friend Lauren Alaina on American Idol. He was chosen for The X Factor after an audition in 2013 but left the show when its producers wanted to include him in a boy band. After that, he decided to post his cover versions of popular songs online.
In 2014, Kane Brown began posting videos of his covers of songs by Brantley Gilbert, Billy Currington, Alan Jackson, and other singers on social media. He acquired a following for his homemade videos on Facebook. His cover of Lee Brice’s “I Don’t Dance” was one early video that gained wide attention. Released on September 30, 2015, his cover of George Strait’s “Check Yes or No” went viral and received more than seven million views. His number of followers on Facebook quickly reached more than a million, leading to a teaser clip for his own single “Used to Love You Sober” hitting one million views in less than three hours upon its release on October 8, 2015, and then reaching more than 11 million views in two weeks.
Brown was initially signed to Zone 4 with Jay Frank as his first manager. Martha Earls became his manager in 2016.
In 2014, Brown raised funds via crowdfunding site Kickstarter to produce a six-song EP, which he recorded in Nashville at the home studio of Noah Henson, guitarist for Brantley Gilbert. The EP, titled Closer, was released on June 2, 2015, and debuted on the Top Country Albums chart at number 22, selling 3,200 copies in its debut week. A single from the EP, “Don’t Go City on Me”, was first released on October 22, 2014, and reached number 43 on the Country Digital Songs chart.
Brown released a new single “Used to Love You Sober” on his birthday (October 21) in 2015, and the song was spotlighted on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1. It reached number two on the Country Digital Songs chart based on just two days of sales, with 38,000 copies sold. The release of the single also pushed his EP Closer up the chart to number 22 on the Top Album Sales chart. A second song, “Last Minute Late Night”, was released on November 4, 2015, and debuted on the Country Digital Songs chart at number nine, with 26,000 copies sold. Another single, “I Love That I Hate You”, followed three weeks later on November 30, 2015, and sold 17,000 copies in the first week.