Kane Brown‘s efforts are paying off. The superstar, who says “we put a lot of work into these videos,” leads this year’s CMT Music Awards nominations with four nods heading into the April 11 awards show.
“It’s exciting,” Brown told Billboard shortly after the nominations were announced.
Brown’s video for “One Mississippi,” filmed at night at a fairground, is nominated for video of the year and male video of the year.
“I have a good buddy, [‘One Mississippi’ director] Alex Alvga, and he’s so good at what he does,” Brown said. “I remember it was early morning and performance scenes with fire in it. I got to go into the fairgrounds before it opened to the public. It was the middle of the pandemic, so I appreciated people who were working through it.”
Alvga has directed several of Brown’s videos, including “Worldwide Beautiful,” “Memory” (featuring Blackbear), “Lose It,” “Cool Again” (featuring Nelly) and “Worship You.”
“One Mississippi” marks Brown’s seventh No. 1 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart, and the first No. 1 for one of his co-writers on the track, Levon Gray, who is signed to Brown’s music publishing company Verse 2.
“I’m especially proud that this song was a No. 1 hit for my publishing company,” Brown said. “There are a lot of people I’m really excited for.”
In the male video of the year category, he hopes to extend his reign, having won in the category last year for “Worship You.” His video for “Lose It” took home the same honor in 2019. His video for “What Ifs” with Lauren Alaina was named collaborative video of the year in 2018. Brown also co-hosted last year’s CMT Music Awards alongside Kelsea Ballerini (this year, Ballerini will emcee the show alongside actor Anthony Mackie).
He also earns two other nods: In the CMT performance of the year category for his performance of Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses” from the 2021 CMT Artists of the Year ceremony, as well as his collaboration with Breland, Blanco Brown and Nelly for “Ride Wit Me” featured in CMT Crossroads: Nelly & Friends.
Brown has long cited Travis as an influence on his own music and career, from posting cover versions on Facebook of some of Travis’ hits, to taking part in a Travis tribute concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, to covering “Three Wooden Crosses” in concert.
“I just love the songwriting, first of all, and I love Randy,” Brown said of being drawn to the song that became a surprise hit for Travis in 2002. “That song really helped me with my career early on. That’s the song that got me introduced to Randy for the first time, when he surprised me at a radio station. Every time I get to sing that song, it’s just part of my career. To be part of it, I hope he’s proud of it and that it brings Randy even more recognition.”
Brown recently performed a new song, “Leave You Alone,” on the Academy of Country Music Awards, and says a new album, the follow-up to his 2020 project Mixtape Vol. 1, will be coming soon.
“I am sending my album off for mastering tomorrow,” he said. “But the album’s done and should be out sometime this year.”
He notes his wife Katelyn Brown will also be on the album, something he says his fans have long been asking for. “I took time with this album and I love every song on the album. My wife says it’s her favorite album I’ve ever done,” he added.
Prior to releasing his breakthrough EP Closer in 2015, Brown was building his grassroots audience through those humble Facebook cover videos of songs including George Strait’s “Check Yes or No,” Lee Brice’s “I Don’t Dance,” and Chris Janson’s “Buy Me a Boat.” He says he would love to revisit some of those songs on an album at some point.
“I’ve thought about that for this album, about putting several cover songs on it,” he said. “I had like 20 or 25 cover songs that did well for me, so I think the smartest thing would be to just go back and cover those again. I know my fans have asked.”
The CMT Music Awards, which will air on CBS for the first time, will take place at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium, as well as from other locations around Music City.