Forget about throwing it back: BRELAND is savoring the present and ensuring the future of country music remains bright.
Back in 2019, the singer made waves in the industry when he put country and hip-hop together on his hit song "My Truck." Though some had their concerns about whether his unique sound was fit for country music, the 26-year-old artist continues to prove the doubters wrong.
"I was definitely worried when I first came on the scene that people might not understand what it is that I'm doing," BRELAND exclusively shared with E! News. "But I think a lot of country artists listen to a lot of other genres of music and are fascinated themselves with the fusion of genres that I've been playing around with, which is why I've been able to collaborate with so many people."
Indeed, from Nelly and Keith Urban to Lauren Alaina and Sam Hunt, the list of BRELAND's collaborators is nothing short of impressive. And as he prepares to perform at the 2022 ACM Awards for the very first time on March 7, the singer feels like the country music community has embraced him. Well, most of them.
"There are people on the Internet who like to troll and I definitely have gotten some pretty hateful messages from people that don't feel like my brand in country music is authentic," he said. "The way that I respond to that is, ‘Okay, well you don't have to love it. Music is interpretative and just because you don't think that this is country enough doesn't mean that it isn't.'"
One day, he said he'll drop something they appreciate, but, in the meantime, "The people who like the music that I'm putting out will have a lot more music coming."
Raised in New Jersey, Amazon Music's Breakthrough Artist says he was always "shy and quiet" growing up. But with two parents who sang gospel music in church, BRELAND was surrounded by incredible musicians who inspired him to dream big.
After watching Justin Bieber's journey from YouTube star to pop music sensation, BRELAND created his own channel to spotlight his unique sounds. Slowly but surely, the video views went up. And now, the past two years have been filled with nonstop wins. But with the highs also come the lows.
"There are a lot of L's that I've taken along the way—some publicly and some privately," he said. "It's a really unique experience to be an up-and-coming artist and it's not always as glamorous as it seems. And trying to maintain balance in the midst of so many changing circumstances is not always as simple as you might want it to be, which is why I've been so focused on being present and being grateful."
And while BRELAND is the first to admit that the music industry isn't perfect, he's proud to remind dreamers to focus on the positive and be your own biggest champion in whatever career you find yourself in.
"Everything seems daunting or even impossible until someone actually does it," he explained. "If I had told people that I wanted to revolutionize country music a few years ago, it would have seemed impossible. But now given some of the headway that I've made with my team in the past couple years, it seems a lot more possible now and I think every dream is like that."
Today, he's seeing more Black artists signing to country labels and he points to the success of his "Beers On Me" collaboration with Dierks Bentley and Hardy, which is currently in the Top 10 on country radio.
"I'm just excited to see things continue to shift and change and the fact that I get to play a part in that in any capacity is motivating," he said. "That's really the thing that keeps me going on a day to day basis."