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.