Brown’s injuries were extensive: he broke —“shattered” is the word he uses—both of his arms, wrists and legs and his pelvis.
As he was rushed into a 12-hour surgery, he recalls an especially harrowing moment. “There’s nothing more real than laying there and you hear the doctor say, ‘If we don’t get him blood, he’s not going to make it,’ and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Brown says, his voice soft. “That was a moment. I could only lay there. I was like ‘Please don’t let me leave.’”
The doctors saved Brown’s leg, which he says “was just hanging…I’d never broken a bone in my body, so to break everything at one time, oh my goodness.”
Brown, 35, spent close to a month in the hospital, half of that in ICU. “I couldn’t move at all. I couldn’t turn in the bed. I had external pipes sticking out of my body holding my pelvis together,” he says. “I had to learn how to do simple things. I couldn’t feed myself. I was broken, but it didn’t break my spirit.”
Though he understandably says “no moment was enjoyable” of his hospital stay, he lightens up when he recalls a day when the staff realized he was behind the explosive viral hit, "The Git Up." The uplifting tune has been certified triple platinum by the RIAA, streamed on demand more than 615 million times in the U.S., according to MRC Data, and spent 12 weeks atop Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
“Three nurses came in one day playing the song,” he says. “It just pumped my spirit all the way up.”
Music helped him recover and fight the isolation since he was allowed no visitors due to COVID-19 protocol. He turned to songs from gospel artists Kirk Franklin and Smokey Norful, as well as Tim McGraw and Jimmie Allen.
Brown, who worked with artists including Pitbull, Fergie and Monica before turning to country music, found the messages in his own music helped too, including “Georgia Power” from his Trailer Trap Music/BBR Music Group 2019 full-length debut, Honeysuckle & Lightning Bugs. “Fans were inboxing me and saying [quotes lyrics] ‘You gotta strap up your boots/get your feeling aligned/gotta get in your mood/ thank God I’m alive, I’ll be alright.’ This song means so much more now,” he says.
His song “I Need Love” also took on a new meaning, especially the line, “As I walk through the cornfield alone, full of emptiness. I felt alone,” Brown says.
Though they couldn’t visit him in the hospital or at his father’s house where he went to further his recovery, many artists, including Jason Aldean and Monica, sent messages of love to Brown with one special memento arriving at just the right time.
In October, McGraw sent Brown one of his trademark black cowboy hats signed “Love ya, Blanco” with a note. McGraw’s 1994 hit “Don’t Take The Girl” was the first song that Brown fell in love as a child in rural Georgia. The pair recorded a version when they were both in Australia in 2019.
“Growing up looking at the iconic black cowboy hat, I was just like ‘Man, if I could get one of those hats that I could hang onto and put in a case, it would mean the most,’” Brown says. “I got surprised with the hat and the note. What’s so crazy is that day I was really down, just thinking like, ‘Will I heal in time? Am I going to heal at this rate?’ To tell you the truth, I got the hat and it made me feel great about everything. It made me want to get up, but I couldn’t!”
Though he had—and still has— tough moments, Brown says he is “keeping the positivity. The beautiful thing about me, and I can attest to this, is I didn’t go into depressing. I have my down days, but I avoid being depressed.”
That positivity helped him when the ripped Indian jacket he was wearing was returned to him months after the accident. “When I saw the jacket, it just brought back that moment. You get hit and don’t know what the outcome will be and then you make it to live another day,” he says. “At that point, it’s time for you to prove to yourself that you’re strong enough and I got that willpower in my mind and in my heart. I see those rips and everything could have been something else.”
Similarly, he’s kept the Bell helmet he received from the manufacturer mere days before the accident. “Bell had sent it to me to try it out and it saved my life,” he says. “Look at God’s timing. We’ll just say I’m on the phone talking to you because of the helmet. Otherwise I would have been scrambled.”
His love for motorcycle riding remains diminished, but Brown says he’s taking his time getting back on his bike and his route will definitely change. “I’m going to be riding it on the track and the back of my house, but more than likely you won’t see me on the road near you. I’m never going to give someone the opportunity to hit me.”
Brown is now able to live on his own and is splitting his time between his home in Atlanta and Nashville. He is in physical therapy three-to-five times a week. “I can move a bit, but I move like a turtle,” he says with a laugh.
As Brown heals, he is delighting in seeing “Just The Way,” his duet with Parmalee, climb into the Top 5 of Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. He predicts more collaborations with the duo, as well as with other artists.
Last month, Allen posted a teaser of a song with Brown called “No Limits,” but the snippet was quickly taken down. “Ain’t no telling what’s going on with the record,” Brown says. “We just wanted to do something great together. You just never know when it’s coming and if it will be me and him or someone else.”
More likely is a project with Darius Rucker after the two recently connected via Twitter. “It’s been one of those things where I’ve always wondered what we would sound like on a song trying to mesh both of the worlds perfectly between his and mine,” he says. “I’m definitely working on a record right now that Darius and I could do together. He said ‘Let’s do it.’ Who wouldn’t want to do it?”
Brown has just now been able to return to making music. “I couldn’t create in the midst of going through it at first because the pain was so bad,” he says.
As he continues to recover — he’s using a scooter and walker for now— he admits being in the studio feels very different. “It’s just been a journey because I’m used to dancing around the studio [and] making everybody laugh and smile and running in and out of the booth,” he says. “Now it’s real different—still the smile and the laughs, but I can’t move and dance around and vibe to my own stuff…Sooner rather than later, God willing.”
Blanco’s new album will come out this fall with a new single in June. Some songs will be informed by the accident, but he stresses, “the album tone is still joyous. I don’t want to change the meaning of the album because the purpose is still there. The album is going to bring a smile to a lot of people’s faces.”
The accident has only confirmed that bringing joy is Brown’s purpose. As he continues to come out the other side, that commitment has only deepened.
“I definitely feel like having another chance at life is God’s purpose for me and his will, so I can’t do nothing but keep on making great music that has a meaning,” he says. “The accident, it solidified that you’re here for this purpose. ‘Keep it going. Don’t stop what you’re doing. Don’t let this put a damper on what you do and how you shine and the joy you have. Just continue to be a blessing.’”
Blanco Brown Talks 'Git Up' Dance Craze, Teases His Next Single & Explains What 'Trailer Trap' Is | AMAs 2019