By Camm Ashford
On last Saturday night, more than 15,000 fans packed Finley Stadium to welcome country music superstar Kane Brown back home for his first-ever stadium show in Chattanooga.
Brown made the comeback to Chattanooga as the first stop of his “Blessed and Free” tour to show appreciation for his home city.
“I had my hardest times here in Chattanooga, had my best times here in Chattanooga–it just made me the man I am today,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t change it for the world. Like I said, my friends and my family are from here and all my memories. I wouldn’t trade anything for Chattanooga.”
On the eve of the sold-out show, representatives from the Bessie Smith Cultural Center hosted a recognition event at Finley Stadium to offer a warm welcome and honor Brown’s achievements. During the event, proclamations officially declaring May 7, 2022, as Kane Brown Day were read by state Rep. Yusuf Hakeem, Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger and Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly.
Mayor Kelly also gave the award-winning singer/songwriter the key to the city, the first he said he has awarded since taking office. Brown will also have a road named after him–”Honorary Kane Brown Parkway.”
“Chattanooga’s got a long history of producing great musical talent and too many times, we didn’t recognize them until they were already out and moved on in life,” Mayor Kelly said. “We’re super proud of Kane Brown and want to give the credit that he’s due now.”
Rep. Hakeem, who also serves as Bessie Smith Cultural Center Board chair, described Brown’s show as “monumental” and the “largest concert” the city will have yet seen. He said Brown’s story is an inspiring one for the region’s children.
“I think it says to our young people, you know, God has given us all talents and blessings,” Hakeem, who represents District 28, said. “Kane has the opportunity to be that role model, that says I am willing to come back home. I am willing to be a part of this community, just because I made it doesn’t mean I am above it.”
Sometimes homeless, Brown’s family moved around northwest Georgia when he was younger, before finally settling in Red Bank, Tenn. As a result, he attended many schools, among them Lakeview Fort Oglethorpe High School in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. where he sang in the choir with Lauren Alaina, the runner-up on Season 10 of American Idol.
After winning a school talent show in 11th grade with a rendition of Chris Young’s “Gettin’ You Home,” Brown began to perform country music. He auditioned for both American Idol and The X Factor. He was chosen for The X Factor after an audition in 2013, but left the show when its producers wanted to include him in a boy band.
In 2014, Brown began posting videos of his covers of country music songs on social media. His own single “Used to Love You Sober” hit one million views in less than three hours upon its release on Oct. 8, 2015, and then reached more than 11 million views in two weeks.
Brown’s No. 1 self-titled debut album spent 13 weeks at the top of the chart and helped him become the first artist in Billboard history to top all 5 Billboard Country charts simultaneously.
Brown’s “Heaven” and “What Ifs” are the 3rd and 7th most streamed country songs of all time, and his sophomore album “Experiment” debuted No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and solidified Brown as the only male country artist in more than 24 years to achieve this all-genre chart feat.
The 28-year-old entertainer earned an Academy of Country Music (ACM) Album of the Year nomination for “Mixtape Vol. 1,” (2020) and won an ACM Video of the Year Award for his anthem “Worldwide Beautiful.”
Brown has a few more stops on his “Blessed and Free” tour before he performs at CMA Fest in Nashville in June. He’ll begin his “Drunk or Dreaming” tour overseas starting in September.
Representatives from the Bessie Smith Cultural Center said a new Kane Brown exhibit will be a part of the organization’s Phase II renovations.