You’d be hard-pressed to find another country artist with a bigger smile than Kane Brown. The 29-year-old singer’s sunny disposition and relaxed, carefree attitude would likely have one thinking he never experienced intentional harm or mistreatment growing up.
But the truth is, he did. And he remembers it all.
“I don’t know if I ever told you, but I had, like, a crazy childhood,” Brown confessed during a recent interview with CBS This Morning. “I had to grow up a lot faster than the normal person.”
Kane Brown just concluded his "Blessed and Free" tour, which included stops at every NBA arena in the country. https://t.co/50mlL8tJ81
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) October 20, 2022
Brown went on to say that he would often take “beatings” and was abused as a child. Worst of all, he experienced it all at the hands of his own stepfather. The award-winning artist explained how his stepdad would use unthinkable measures of discipline to make him pay for his mistakes as an adolescent.
One of those torments involved the use of a cleansing agent.
“One of my stepdads, for my punishment shaved my head bald and put aftershave on me,” Brown, who grew up near the Tennessee-Georgia border – sometimes living in a car with his mother, told Gayle King. “Made me, like, physically eat half a bar of soap, not just bite into it. I had to physically eat it and swallow it. So all kinds of crazy things.”
Brown didn’t specify the brand of soap or detail the after-effects of the horrifying disciplinary method, but according to Healthline, eating even “a bite or two of soap may cause some indigestion or vomiting, in addition to other symptoms.” So it’s likely Brown went through some rough and traumatic moments as a repercussion of the inappropriate punishments.
But the abuse is not all Brown remembers from his tumultuous childhood. He was also treated differently in school by his peers because of the color of his skin. Brown recalls a particular moment in which he had a girlfriend, who broke up with him due to the pressures she faced being raised by her parents.
“It was, like, my first, like, actual girlfriend. You know, we were on the bus. And she was about to get dropped off, and then she was, like, ‘I can’t talk to you anymore.’ And I was, like, ‘What do you mean?’ And she was, like, ‘My dad said you’re Black,’” Brown shared.
These days, Brown is far from being that kid stuck in a toxic living situation. Instead, he is living out his dreams and receiving awards and accolades for his hit songs and musical talents. On top of that, he is happily married to his beautiful wife, a singer named Katelyn Jae. The couple recently released an incredibly sweet and personal collaboration called “Thank God.”
While Brown is aware of the country genre’s long history of cultural exclusion, he says he feels optimistic about its move toward greater inclusivity.
“I shouldn’t have to say anything, you know? I’m up there in front of everybody as a Black artist. I’m selling out arenas. I’m on the radio. I’m doing all this stuff,” he shared. “Right there should tell you that, you know, country music’s getting better. And people should be opening up.”
Brown and Katelyn, who tied the knot in Oct. 2018, also share two beautiful daughters, Kingsley, 2, and Kody, 10 months. And even though the girl-dad didn’t get to have the childhood he always wanted, he is determined to give it his best as a father – a decision he made long before he said “I Do” to his now wife.
“I just always knew I was going to try to be there for her or him. We didn’t know, but I was just always gonna try to be there,” Brown said of having kids. “I always wanted to give them the life that — I know a lot of people say this — but I did want to give them the life that I never had.”
Brown recently wrapped his Blessed and Free tour, which saw him headlining every NBA arena in the country. His next scheduled performance takes place on October 28 in Cincinnati, OH.