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Up and coming country singer Kane Brown headlines Pueblo's Bands in the Backyard

June 14, 2017 Updated: June 14, 2017 at 5:49 pm
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Country singer Kane Brown will perform at Bands in the Backyard at The Yard in Pueblo. Courtesy.

At first listen, the deep rumble of country singer Kane Brown's baritone voice will blow back your hair.

No, he's not 45; he's a mere 23 years old. But he sounds as if he's lived, loved and carried heartbreak around for decades.

It was only three years ago that the voice kicked in.

"It was a weird path to finding it," Brown said from a tour stop in Michigan. "I grew up singing and had a high-pitched voice. I could scream so loud, it would break your ears. I could sing along to Shania Twain, and then I hit puberty."

Brown is one of this year's headliners at the fifth annual Bands in the Backyard in Vineland, near Pueblo. Thomas Rhett, Old Dominion, Kory Brunson Band, Billy Currington and others will join him during the country music spectacular Friday and Saturday.

Last year's event attracted 15,000 attendees who came for the country music, tailgate parties, camping, Mudd Volleyball, mobile freefall stunt and The Hippo, the world's largest inflatable water slide at 40 feet tall and 235 feet long.

After Brown's new voice descended, it took about two years for him to learn how to wrangle it: "It sucked at first - I couldn't sing. I didn't know about switching keys."

He persevered by singing along to YouTube videos by other country singers, including Chris Young, with whom he's often compared. Eventually, he got up the nerve to record live videos on Facebook, covering classic country songs, such as George Strait's "Check Yes or No," and then making the debut of his own music, including "Used to Love You Sober."

His efforts accrued him a million followers and the attention of a record label. His first full-length, self-titled album launched in the top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart in December.

Brown has been deemed the first musician within the country genre to come to fame through the use of social media.

"It's cool, but it has its downfalls," he said. "I'm always on social media. People say negative things, and I always see them because I'm always on Facebook. If you're not on social media, you don't hear anybody talking about you."

A social media fast isn't the answer, though, at least not to the young performer still working hard to carve out his career.

"I don't want to be forgotten," Brown said. "If people don't see you do anything, there's always the unfollow button."

That seems unlikely, however, for a guy who was just nominated new male vocalist of the year at this year's Academy of Country Music Awards.

The young singer is reluctant to call himself a success; he keeps raising the bar. First he needed a million Facebook followers, a record deal and an appearance on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." When he could tick those three items off the list, he changed the stakes.

"Now I need a million on Instagram," he said. "Then I'll set another goal. I need a No. 1 on radio."

JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM

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