Brian Kelley Says He’s Following The ‘Garth and Kenny Model’ When It Comes To His Debut Solo Album

Kelley is following the example of superstars like Garth Brooks and Kenny Chesney when it comes to song selection.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

June 22, 2023

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Brian Kelley on the Close Up Stage at Fan Fair X on Saturday, June 10 during CMA Fest 2023 in downtown Nashville; Photo by Josh Brasted/CMA

Brian Kelley is preparing to release his first album as a solo artist following his run in the wildly successful country duo Florida Georgia Line. When it comes to selecting songs to include in this forthcoming set of work, the Florida native says following what he calls the “Garth and Kenny model.”

This means that he’s striving to write as many of his own songs as he can, while also being open to recording outside cuts by his fellow songwriters. Kelley discussed this creative process during an in-depth Q&A session with American Songwriter that took place during CMA Fest in Nashville. 

“Best Song Wins”

“There’s no ego here, it’s best song wins,” he explained. 

The country singer went on to say that his newest single, “See You Next Summer” serves as a great example of this because although he didn’t write it, the tune is still a great fit for his catalog. 

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“See You Next Summer”

Highly acclaimed songwriters Hardy, Hillary Lindsey, and David Garcia are responsible for penning this breezy track that illustrates the excitement of stepping into a summer romance before it fades along with the season. However, the lyrics begin to tell another story, one that finds the couple longing for their fling to turn into something more.  

Kelley explained that the steadfast love story represents his own with his wife, Brittney Kelley.

“I am living that song,” he admitted. “It’s that forever kind of love song and I think that’s why it resonated with me…I couldn’t find a reason not to record it.” 

Major Impact At Country Radio

This song marks Kelley’s first song sent to Country radio as a solo artist via Big Machine Records with 80 first-week stations upon its release.

In response to seeing the song do so well right out of the gates, he took to social media to say, “Blown away y’all!!!!! Thank you COUNTRY RADIO!!!!!!! Beyond grateful!!! Fired up!!!!”

Despite the fact that the Beach Cowboy is no longer pursuing Florida Georgia Line alongside Hubbard, he explained during the recent Q&A that he has nothing but good things to say about the careers they built together. 

Kelley claimed that time was “extra special” and he’s still “humbled” by what they accomplished together. The pair first crossed paths in a worship group on the campus of Belmont University in Nashville. Soon after, they started to write music together and in 2010, they dropped their first EP as an independent duo. 

Their duo was propelled into success when their 2012 song “Cruise” became a breakout hit. Not only did the song reach No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart that year, but it went on to sell more than 7.5 million downloads by 2020 in the U.S. Eventually, “Cruise” became their first of two diamond-certified singles, followed by “Meant to Be,” featuring Bebe Rexha.

Florida Georgia Line; Photo by John Shearer
Florida Georgia Line; Photo by John Shearer

Reflecting on their journey, Kelley claimed that he is holding onto the “foundation” that was built during Florida Georgia Line and carrying it with him as he continues on with his solo career. The singer/songwriter also made note of all the lessons he learned along the way, including what it means to strive for fan “happiness” and the importance of knowing how to put on a good live performance.

Solo Journey

 “It’s a really special time in my life,” he said of his new chapter as a solo artist. 

In addition to his latest release, “See You Next Summer,” Kelley’s solo venture has also produced songs like “American Spirit,” “Florida Strong,” “Made By The Water,” “Sunday Service In The Sand,” and more. 

Brian Kelley; Photo By Ben Christensen
Brian Kelley; Photo By Ben Christensen

While he has yet to share any further details regarding his full-length project or plans for touring, Brian Kelley does have a few performances booked for the summer.

On June 30, he will head to Commerce, CA to appear as part of The Commerce Concert Summer Series. His next stop will be in Cleveland, OH on August 4-5 for the Victory Live! / WGAR Country Jam. 

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.