Marissa Moss again proves her bona fides as one of the finest country music journalists that we have in her cover story for Billboard‘s annual Country Power Issue: “Kane Brown, Mickey Guyton and Brothers Osborne on Country’s More Inclusive Future.”
These are the artists building a new future for Music Row, where power doesn’t equate to chart position alone — it reflects something deeper, where ownership, individuality and the quest for inclusion hold more weight than a hit single. They may not all have equal radio or institutional support on their side, but the freedoms of streaming, the possibilities of crossover markets and their fearlessness about speaking out have created a movement within the mainstream to expand the genre beyond just one look, sound or perspective. The real renegades of Nashville aren’t just those who eschew the system altogether — they’re the ones who try to rebuild it from the inside out.
It’s a masterful interview that draws out common threads between three unique experiences in the industry by three very different artists. She creates an environment where Brown, Guyton, and the Osbornes share candid experiences while emphasizing with each other’s moments of vulnerability.
As a burgeoning Kane Brown aficionado, I especially appreciated him being given an opportunity to discuss his own experiences, which are often not considered because of the extensive mainstream success that he’s enjoyed.
Brown: This year has been s–t, but I just won my first ACM Award [for video of the year for “Worldwide Beautiful”]. And it wasn’t like, “Congratulations on winning your first ACM. How does it feel?” It was like, “How does it feel being Black and winning your first ACM?” So in my head, I was like, “I feel like I’m about to win this award because of everything that’s going on right now.” I felt like they were just giving me a handout. And luckily, I had a lot of country artists and my team be like, “No, you worked your ass off. You deserve it.” This year has been crazy. If you talk about how you feel, you get bashed. If you don’t talk about it, you get bashed. Just trying to find where your place is has been the hardest part for me this year.
Click through to read the entire piece, which is essential reading from start to finish.