The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
Mark Humphrey—AP
By Darius Rucker
September 15, 2021 7:19 AM EDT

Kane Brown has that unquantifiable “it” factor. He’s so laid-back and doesn’t take himself too seriously, but he also really cares about his craft and other people. And when it comes to his music, he can do that low, cool, borderline-rapping thing, and then he sings and his vocal ability just blows you away.

Early on, the line I heard from so many radio programmers was, “My audience will never accept a Black country singer.” Now everybody knows that’s not true, and Kane is making it more untrue because he’s having success like nobody else. I’m sure there are kids looking up to Kane right now just like when I looked up at Charley Pride. One of the most pivotal moments of my career was when Charley shared some of the lessons he learned over the years with me. Those moments where we learn from country’s past need to continue. Charley opened the door when there were those in the country music industry that tried to close it. I hope I pushed it open a bit further so now artists like Kane, Mickey Guyton, Jimmie Allen can kick it down.

Kane is setting the bar so high for the next generation. I hope kids see him and now think, “I can do that.”

Rucker is a Grammy-winning musical artist

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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