Women in Music 2018

Kane Brown On Learning He Was Biracial at 7, Being Called the 'N-Word': 'I Got in Fights Over it'

Brian Jamie
Kane Brown

The breakout country star discussed his upbringing with 'People.'

Recent Billboard cover star Kane Brown has earned plenty of attention for being one of the rare nonwhite faces on Music Row. But in a new interview with People magazine, the Experiment star opens up about a difficult childhood during which he was frequently called the N-word at a time when he was just beginning to understand what being biracial meant.

“I’m biracial; I didn’t know that until I was 7 or 8 years old,” the 25 year-old singer -- whose mother, Tabatha, is white, and father (who was not in his life) is part black and part Cherokee -- told the magazine. “I thought I was full white, which honestly, I can’t even really say because I didn’t see colors.” That made it all the more confusing when students at his Georgia middle school started making fun of 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 said. “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 learned to brush off the harsh comments and taunts, saying he "just kind of got over it," later channeling his experience into a story he hopes will help other kids like him be stronger.  

That doesn't mean, however, that he had an easy time breaking into the country music scene. “When I first got into country, I started getting some of those comments like, ‘He’s an N-word.’ Stuff like that,” he says. “I used to screenshot it and put it on Twitter, like, ‘There 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.”

His tenacity paid off, as Experiment recently earned Brown his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart, becoming just the third country album to hit the top spot on the all-genre 200 chart in 2018, following Carrie Underwood's Cry Pretty and Jason Aldean's Rearview Town.

Read the full People story here.