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Social Media Propelled Kane Brown to Stardom

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By Rich Place

When one hears about someone trying to make it big in the country music scene, it’s not uncommon to imagine a talented musician singing at a honky tonk in Nashville or perhaps being an opening act at a county fair or small-town concert.

But when country music meets the 21st century and the world of social media, stars like Kane Brown are born.

In a career that seemed to explode overnight courtesy of a series of original Facebook videos, Kane will bring his young country music act to the Cattaraugus County Fair for a sold out show on Tuesday, July 31.

The viral nature of Brown, who is only 24 years old, seemed to stretch into the show’s ticket sales. Track seats sold out within about 10 or 15 minutes even with 400 extra seats, according to Kristina Charlesworth Golden, treasurer for the Cattaraugus County Agricultural Society that operates the fair. The bleachers were sold out by noon and the grandstand lasted about a week, she said.

“By the time we booked Kane Brown, he was on his way up to the top,” she said. “Once we announced it, he had his huge hit, ‘Heaven.’ We couldn’t have had better timing with him. Kane is going to be huge. Definitely the biggest concert we’ve ever had.”

Brown was raised in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., a city of roughly 9,000 in the very northwest corner of Georgia. In an interview with meetkanebrown.com, a site managed by Sony Music Entertainment, Brown said he was forced to frequently switch schools and shift households because of trouble at home.

“We didn’t have a lot of money, and we moved all the time. There were a bunch of family issues,” he told the website.

A musician by nature, it seemed, Brown performed “Gettin’ You Home” by Chris Young to win a high school talent show. That led to him eventually singing cover songs on his cell phone and posting them on Facebook.

“I would just sing and put them on Facebook, not thinking that anything was going to happen,” he said. “One day, I just woke up and got lucky. I had 60,000 shares on a song.”

But in hindsight, that was nothing — his rendition of “Check Yes or No” by George Strait tallied more than 7 million views.

His first six-song EP, “Closer,” was released in mid-2015 after raising funds on Kickstarter. A new single, “Used to Love You Sober,” was released in October 2015 and was spotlighted on Beats 1, a worldwide Apple Music radio station.

Brown signed with Sony Music Nashville in 2016 and released his self-titled album in December 2016. It included the hit “What Ifs,” which was recorded with his former classmate Lauren Alaina. When an expanded version of the album was released in October 2017, it included another successful track, “Heaven,” a duet with Chris Young.

On meetkanebrown.com, his biography notes his rise to stardom through social media has allowed many longtime fans, who first discovered him in the Facebook videos, to feel as if they witnessed a longtime buddy’s success.

“My fans got me to where I am today,” he told the website. “When I take the time to comment back in 10 seconds, they always get excited, and it makes me feel happy, too. It just makes me feel like I’m giving them something for where I’m at today.

“There’s just a strong connection,” he continued in his biography. “They are the ones that got me started, and they are the ones who wanted to follow my journey and be a part of something. It’s an awesome connection, and it means the world to me — they know that it means the world to me.”

Kane Brown will perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 31 at the Cattaraugus County Fair’s grandstand stage. Smithfield, a Texas-based band founded in 2011, will perform as the opening act. Tickets for the concert are sold out.

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