The April 11, 2022 CMT Music Awards could cement the country music superstar for BRELAND, the 26-year-old New Jersey-born, now Nashville-based artist.
He is overwhelmed by his three nominationsbut that’s not to say that this level of success wasn’t in his plan from the start.
“I didn’t have a ton of specific checkpoints in my plan, but I knew that if I had a clear mission statement, whatever I wanted to happen would happen,” says the artist who just returned from a successful appearance at the C2C Festival in London. O2 Arena.
What was that mission statement?
“I wanted to approach country music from a fresh perspective and find a way to make the genre more inclusive while reaching new audiences.”
Her 2021 single “Cross Country” earned her a CMT nomination for “Breakthrough Video of the Year.” He is also the only artist nominated twice in the same category – “Performance of the Year” – for his performance at the 2021 CMT Awards of “Friendship Train” with Gladys Knight and Mickey Guyton, as well as a performance of “Ride Wit Me” from an episode of “CMT Crossroads: Nelly & Friends” featuring Nelly, Kane Brown and Blanco Brown.
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“‘Cross Country’ isn’t just a song I wrote and performed; it’s the title track of my entire movement,” BRELAND said. “I break down genres by building bridges between them. I tell my story in this song, hoping to inspire other people to tell their stories [in country music]. The video is the first music video I came up with the concept for – so that’s also important.”
Her nominated performance of “Friendship Train” was her first ever performance at an awards show and her second live performance.
“I wasn’t even supposed to be a part of this [performance]”, BRELAND said. “During dress rehearsal, Mickey and Gladys were like, ‘Hey, you should be on this.'”
The song was part of a medley that began with him performing his version of “Cross Country” with Guyton. They also added it to “Friendship Train”.
“[Gladys and Mickey] wanting to create increased visibility for black people on this stage resulted in a nomination.”
At various points in his conversation with the Tennessean, the artist described his current career as a “collision”, an “earthquake”, an “explosion”, and a “fire”.
The week the CMT Music Awards airs on CBS on April 11, he also performs at the Tortuga Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on April 9 and has a BRELAND and Friends show at the Ryman Auditorium on April 12.
BRELAND also revealed to the Tennessean that he has a new album coming in June.
“I don’t do what I do for recognition or fame,” he said. “But when you get both, it’s validation because it feels like the times when you feel like you’re trying to fight a mountain [false]because you are already climbing to the top of the mountain [instead]. This is the first time I’ve been nominated for a major award. My mind is racing.”
After performing at the 2021 CMT Music Awards, his exuberance led him down a long flight of stairs. He wonders how he will react if he wins a prize.
“Don’t let the glasses fool you. I’m an athlete. I can do some things. In a lot of ways I’m low key like that. Guess I’ll have to learn some new flips and tricks, man.”