"My first impression when I heard 'Heaven' was 'do not let anyone else have that song! I'm putting it on hold,'” Brown recalls. "I knew it was special from the first time I heard it, and I thought my fans would love it as much as I did."
Ahead of performing "What Ifs" with Alaina at the 2018 Academy of Country Music Awards on April 15, Brown delivered an acoustic performance of "Heaven" on the same stage for a special video available to fans on Xfinity On Demand. After Billboard chatted with Brown about his new music on the ACMs red carpet, the singer told us a little more about the magic of "Heaven" and his Xfinity Encore performance.
Why did you want to partner with Xfinity for this performance of "Heaven”?
I loved being able to bring something different to the fans. I have the best and most loyal fans in the world, and they are used to connecting with me since the very beginning. I loved the idea of giving them a new version of the song, along with a new live video timed to the biggest performance I have had to date on the ACMs. They are what got me here.
What was it like to perform on the ACM stage by yourself, and how did it compare to performing with Lauren on the actual show?
If I am being honest, both were nerve-wracking! That stage is a huge honor, and when you are on it, you all of a sudden start thinking of all the other great performers and legends that have been on it. This was the first time I’ve gotten to perform one of my own songs on a major award show stage since I did CMAs with Brad Paisley [last year].
It was really cool to be able to do two songs from the stage, and one with someone I have known for such a long time. I would say the live show for “What Ifs” was made me a little more nervous, because you have everyone in the audience. But I saw the guys from Florida Georgia Line stand up, and Thomas Rhett singing the words along, and that just meant so much to me. It was so cool of them to do.
That is so cool! Is there a performance of “Heaven” that has been most memorable for you?
The song really did have an immediately reaction, as soon as we released it. I did my first arena headlining show this past December, and there was a sold-out crowd of almost 8,000 people. There was nothing like hearing about 8,000 fans sing every single word back to you for the first time.
How does the feeling and experience of performing this song compare to the other songs you sing at your shows?
Performing “Heaven” this time was a bit different since its the first live acoustic performance ever of the song. And because we did it around the ACM Awards there were a bunch of additional people in the industry and artists around the venue too. It was designed as a performance so that you feel like I am right there in your living room with you, so I hope people do feel that way. Its more stripped down, since its the new acoustic version, so I hope people love it as much as the original version.
Is there something you think the acoustic version brings out of the song versus the original?
I think the feedback from fans about this song in general is that they love that they can really hear my voice on it, and I think the acoustic version really brings that out.
Other than your fiancée [Brown has been engaged to Katelyn Jae since April 2017], is there something else that the lyrics of “Heaven” makes you think of?
It’s just that feeling of being home, whatever that is to you. Sometimes its that feeling of being on stage with your fans too. That's an amazing feeling. But I would say your family, your fiancé, your dogs. Don’t tell Rambo that, it may go to his head.
Even though you didn’t write it, which "Heaven" lyric do you feel most connected to or do you like the most?
I think lyrically the first lines are what drew me in, "This is perfect" and "I couldn’t dream this up even if I tried.” I really appreciate where I am right now in my career, and am so grateful to the fans for getting me to where I am today. That's who I make music for -- they have been with me since day one, and I love giving them new music as often as possible.
If you had to guess, how many weddings do you think "Heaven" will be a part of this year?
[Laughs] I don’t know. I would be happy to have it be a part of people’s weddings. Maybe I'll surprise someone at theirs and sing it for them.
Comcast Xfinity customers can access Brown's performance on Xfinity On Demand. Just say “Show me the ACM’s” into your X1 Voice Remote for more content from Brown and his fellow country stars.