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BRELAND Talks Heartbreak & Alcohol, Welcoming Beyonce’ To Country Music, Touring With Shania Twain And Much More

BRELAND, is a singer, songwriter, and record producer originally from New Jersey. He has created his own new kind of music that creatively combines gospel, country, hip hop, and rap.

After releasing his debut single “My Truck” in 2019, it flooded TikTok the next year, reaching Number 26 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. The song has since been certified platinum after a remix featuring Sam Hunt. Breland went on to release multiple EP’s: BrelandRage & Sorrow, and Breland & Friends: Volume 1 (Live).

BRELAND has also released a slew of singles including “Throw It Back” featuring Keith Urban and “Praise the Lord” with Thomas Rhett, both of which were subsequently certified gold. With his rising popularity and contagious beats, popular country artists like Gary Levox and Shania Twain have featured Breland on their songs. 

BRELAND’s debut album Cross Country was released in September of 2022. The songs on the album are representative of his unique mix of country and hip hop. Just last month BRELAND released a new single, “Heartbreak & Alcohol” that shares the same tune as Lil Wayne’s song “Good Kush & Alcohol (B*tches Love Me)” but with his own country themed lyrics.

You can catch BRELAND touring across the US with his new album. He will also be performing at Big As Texas Fest in May and at Bourbon and Beyond in September. He is currently working on new music and hopes to have new songs released this year. 

We had the chance to meet with BRELAND at Country Now Live in Nashville to talk about the highlights of his tour with Shania Twain, submitting songs for Beyonce’s country project, and how his education in business has helped him in his musical career. 

BRELAND Talks Welcoming Beyonce’ To Country Music
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

2023 was a big year for you. You received the ACM Lift Every Voice award. What did that mean to you?

It was an incredible honor. Just seeing the increase in attention to diversity in country music and recognizing country music’s undeniable black roots. To be the inaugural winner of an award like that is major. It’s definitely not something that I take lightly. Seeing everything that we’re seeing this year from Beyoncé dropping this new music and all of this increased attention to diverse voices in this genre, I thought that award was really dope.

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

How are you feeling about Beyoncé in country music

I’ve known that this was coming for a little while, just as an industry insider. I submitted a couple songs. I’m not on it though. Regardless, the visibility that she’s brought to artists like myself has been really incredible. Hopefully she’ll bring a couple people out with her on the road or some type of performance together. I’m definitely hoping for something like that. 

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

I love Brittney Spencer and you have a song with her. How did that collaboration come about?

Just literally because she’s the homie. I’ve been friends with Brittney since I moved to town. She’s been here for a while, and I’m really excited for everything that she has going on, having just dropped her debut album a couple months ago. Sometimes you have industry friends and sometimes you have actual friends who just so happen to be in the industry. She is a real-life friend of mine. If we didn’t make music, we would still be friends. When you get to make music with people that you already have that relationship with, it’s always a little more special.

BRELAND Talks Welcoming Beyonce’ To Country Music
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

So last time I photographed you, you were opening for Shania Twain at Geodis. You were technically the first musical performance at the new soccer stadium. What was the highlight of that tour for you?

There were a couple. I would say one was playing Madison Square Garden just as a Jersey kid and recognizing MSG as being the premier venue, and maybe Red Rocks for outdoor. But as far as indoor venues go, it really MSG is the Mecca. Then I would say probably back to back nights at 

The O2 in London with her was really special. I’ve played a lot of shows in the UK. It’s a big market for me. To see how many people in the crowd already knew my music and were familiar through different events that we’ve done out there in the past. I thought both of those were really special. But breaking ground at Geodis as the opener for the first ever concert, that is an honor and a distinction that I definitely appreciate.

Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

You toured across Europe with Shania. Did you find any hidden gems?

I’ll tell you what, I would sleep on Scandinavia because I had never been. Oslo has got it. Norway is it. I’m about to spend a lot more time out there. I don’t know when or how, but I might have to take a vacation or something. The air is clean, there’s transportation. Everything is so green. All the people are so happy, so beautiful. 

I loved Rage and Sorrow. I thought the music came at the most important time. I spent a lot of time in Louisville covering protests. I met Breonna Taylor’s family. I saw it firsthand. Your music was extremely important during that time. Wil you have any follow up to that?

I mean, look, we’re living in some really politically charged times. I feel like music is one of those things that can bring people together and/or provide perspectives that people need to hear. I’ve never shied away from saying things publicly about issues that I’m passionate about, or communicating those things through songs. I would say I wouldn’t rule anything out. You know, there’s definitely some music that I’ve made that has strong messaging in it. I’m never the type of artist that is afraid to speak my mind.

BRELAND Talks Welcoming Beyonce’ To Country Music
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

Are you more hopeful now that people can get along? Music is obviously a bridge to that.

I’m always hopeful because I get a chance to see America and the world from a different perspective than a lot of people. Most people only get to see it from whatever they see portrayed through the media or what they’re seeing in their actual communities. I get a chance to see so many different communities and with a really unique lens as being an artist of color in a predominantly white genre.

I’ve experienced a lot of stuff, but the music definitely keeps me hopeful. Hopefully this year is a much more peaceful election cycle than the last couple ones have been. If it isn’t, I’m sure we have a lot of great music to come out that hopefully will help ease that.

Tell me about “Heartbreak & Alcohol.”

I usually have exclusively written everything that I’ve put out. This is the first song that I ever took that was pitched to me. I changed a few lyrics around to make it make more sense for me to sing, but I thought it was a really clever twist on a song that I really love by Lil Wayne, Future, and Drake. 

I’ve always appreciated hip hop music and adding my perspective to country in a way that honors some of the other genres that I really love. I thought this song did that in a really cool way. I wanted to put it out around Valentine’s Day. I’m seeing a lot of responses. People love alcohol and people love break up songs. Hopefully not too much of those two things together. It’s been a fun journey to watch how people have discovered it. I’m excited to play it out on the road this year.

BRELAND Talks Welcoming Beyonce’ To Country Music
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

What’s inspiring you to write right now?

Honestly, I’ve been in a much different creative pocket. I’m not quite in a place to share what exactly I’m making, but I believe that its career defining work. I have never felt so confident about the music that I’m making, as I have in the last couple of weeks. It’s just a new direction. It’s not much of a pivot out of country really at all, just kind of a different blend of genres than I’ve experimented with in the past. I think people will, hopefully, be receptive to it.

When can we hear it?

Hopefully at some point this year. I’m still creating it, so we’ll see. I’m going to tour. I’ll have a couple more songs coming out, probably before the summer that I’m excited for. Then we’ll see about this new side. 

You went to Georgetown and studied business. How has that prepared you for the music business?

The music business is its own thing. Georgetown, they’re preparing you for big business. I would say just being able to see myself as a business. I’m a startup. A startup that is profitable, but still a startup. I’m within my first five years, people are still discovering my music. 

I’m still breaking new ground every time I go out on the road, every time I put music out, thinking about what my value proposition is in the country music industry, what I bring to the table that other artists might not be able to, and trying to lean into all of those things. 

I think those are things that I definitely learned in business school, but they’re also just things that I innately have developed and learned from trying and failing. You just try to figure it out in real time. 

BRELAND Talks Welcoming Beyonce’ To Country Music
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

You grew up with gospel music. Have you ever thought about doing gospel?

Definitely. I’ve written a few gospel songs. Gary (LeVox) and I have a gospel song on his EP called “All I See” that came out a couple of years ago. I really love that song. This year I was a part of an album that was nominated for a Grammy with Jonathan McReynolds. He’s a gospel artist. I definitely will always have some songs that acknowledge that part of my background and my faith. But it’s hard to marry that with what it is I’m doing right now. 

I would say a couple songs that I’ve done do a really good job of that are “Praise the Lord,” I think has some of the gospel roots. That is a fun one to play live. Then another one of mine that does that in a way is “Here For It,” which is me and Ingrid Andress. It’s the first song on my album. It has sounds I got straight out of the church. People can hear that influence in the way that I sing and in the way that I talk and hopefully try to treat people too.

Your parents have to be really proud.

You know, they’ve done a really good job, and I’m more proud of them, honestly. My mom went back to school, got her doctorate a couple of years ago. My dad was an attorney for a lot of years growing up, and he always wanted to be a judge, and he’s a judge now. 

Watching them as adults in their 40s, 50s and 60s still pursuing their dreams and accomplishing some incredible things like that inspires me to keep going. I think in the music industry, sometimes women experience this more than men do, but this idea that there’s always going to be someone younger and more talented. 

But we’re all running our own race and we’re all on our own timeline. For me, seeing my parents do that has let me realize that slow and steady wins the race. I’m really excited for my journey.

BRELAND Talks Welcoming Beyonce’ To Country Music
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

What’s your craziest travel story?

We had a situation where we were going to be performing out in Germany, playing for the troops this past summer. There was a storm that delayed our flight out of Nashville to what would have been DC. Then DC would have taken us out to Germany directly. We would have missed our flight to DC, and there just weren’t any good options. 

Somehow, we were able to go from Nashville, to New York, to London, to Belgium, and take a train. We made the show and didn’t have to cancel it. That was for 4th of July. I really wanted to play the show, and I’m glad we were able to, but it definitely was in jeopardy for a minute. Shout out to the good people at Delta for getting us standby tickets out of the country last minute.

What are your must-have travel items?

I always bring my Nintendo Switch. I play a lot of Super Mario Brothers. I would say people would be hard pressed to finish levels of Super Mario Brothers faster than me. I get through the games really quickly. That’s just kind of my comfort game. You can bring it easily on sprinters, buses, planes, you can hook it up to TVs, play with other people, which is always a fun time. 

I definitely bring all the normal stuff. I usually also bring a pack of Uno cards because we play a game called Spicy Uno. It’s like Uno with a twist. There are just a couple additional rules that make the game a little more chaotic. It’s fun to play with the band. 

BRELAND Talks Welcoming Beyonce’ To Country Music
Photo Credit: Amy Harris/The Travel Addict

What are the rules?

It’s all the regular Uno rules, but certain cards have different distinctions. If you play a one, you can switch hands with anyone else in the room. If someone has an Uno and you put down a one, you now have their Uno and they have however many cards you had. If you play a seven, no one’s allowed to talk until the next seven is played. So, half of the game is played in silence, which is actually really funny. 

There are just a couple different rules that are fun. If someone plays a blue eight, you can put down a blue eight whenever, whether it’s your turn or not, then it picks up from there. If we’re going in a circle and technically my turn is not for three more turns and I put my card down, I’ve now skipped the three people who are going to go before me and it picks up after me. 

I don’t know who made it up. My photographer Henry brought it to me, and it’s been a staple for us on the road. So, we always bring a pack of cards.

The Country Now Live show is all about raising money for St. Jude. What does that charity mean to you and why is it special? 

It always means a lot to me to be able to use my platform for something bigger than just my own personal gain. I do Breland and Friends every year at the Ryman. This is year three of us doing that, which benefits the Oasis Center, which helps at-risk teens. I would say it’s a similar principle here. 

Just coming out and trying to help kids in ways that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I know Saint Jude does a lot of really great work. This is not my first time doing something with them. Hopefully the people here are all willing to donate and get out and volunteer in the ways that they can. 

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