Exclusive Premiere: Opry NextStage Artist BRELAND Reflects On His Journey To Nashville

Breland; Photo by Chris Hollo
Breland; Photo by Chris Hollo
Breland; Photo by Chris Hollo

Rising country artist BRELAND is making an undeniable mark in country music with his cross-genre appeal, incredible work ethic, and infectious stage presence. The singer-songwriter is the latest to be featured in the Grand Ole Opry NextStage discovery program, and Country Now readers are getting a first look at a brand new video from his spotlight in this exclusive premiere. 

The Opry NextStage invests in the discovery and development of new talent, highlighting one bold and unique rising artist each month. Pricilla Block, Riley Green, Tenille Townes, Parker McCollum, Lainey Wilson, and Jameson Rodgers are some of the artists who have been included in the program since its inception in 2019. Elvie Shane and Morgan Wade have been added to the Opry NextStage Class of 2022, with more artists to be named throughout the year. BRELAND, the recognized artist for the month of July, combines his hip hop and country music influences to create a sound that he calls “cross country.”

In this clip, BRELAND, who will release his debut album, Cross Country on September 9, goes on his first trip to Nashville, where everything that he had worked on up to this point finally comes together. To understand how BRELAND made his way to Nashville, it’s important to know where his story began. BRELAND was raised in Burlington, New Jersey, by minister parents, who exposed him to music early on. As a kid, he participated in various activities like musical theater and singing in church. After high school, he enrolled in college at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and began songwriting and arranging music with an a cappella group called the Phantoms. After graduation, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he juggled music and a full-time job. He started building his presence online by sharing original content and material on social media. And that led to artists reaching out to him to cut his songs. But, it wasn’t until BRELAND received a call from Keith Urban that things began to take off – big time. 

“I knew about BRELAND’s song called “My Truck,” and liked it,” Urban explains in the clip of BRELAND’s Platinum-certified single, which reached No. 26 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart. “Then I read an interview with him online, and from the interview, I just thought, “I’d love to meet this guy.” I love the way he creates, the way he talks about music.”

 “Honestly, the moment that Keith reached out to me and invited me to his house, we just hit it off,” BRELAND shares in the video.

Urban and BRELAND’s initial meeting was so successful that it turned into a lifelong friendship between the two of them. BRELAND has co-written two songs for Urban’s September 2020 album, The Speed of Now Part 1, and even collaborated with Urban on his song, “Throw It Back.” The two artists also performed “Lean On Me” together during Loretta Lynn’s Benefit Concert for Flood Relief in 2021. 

“It was such an inspirational trip. That was the one that let me know, ‘Ok, it is the right time for me to move to Nashville,” BRELAND shares of his first time in Music City. “Those collaborations create moments and create movements that hopefully inspire people to get out and do what it is that they’re supposed to do. I think when people follow their dreams, the way that they interact with the world changes. The more people that find the courage and the strength to do that, they’ll be surprised by what can happen. When they listen to my music, I hope they hear that because that’s what this is – somebody who’s still going, despite every obstacle or every system saying, ‘you can’t do it.’ I hope people see themselves in that.”

BRELAND, who made his Grand Ole Opry debut on Nov. 5, 2021, has become part of a movement that aims to open up the lane for artists that have – in recent years – been underrepresented in the country genre. And, since beginning his career, he has continued to be a trailblazer, having collaborated with countless artists, including Thomas Rhett, Mickey Guyton, Dierks Bentley, Nelly, Blanco Brown, HARDY, and more. He opened up about the future of country music and his role as part of the inspirational movement that is breaking barriers and reinventing what country music sounds and looks like.

“Nashville represents both the present and future. Nashville is a city that – in and out of itself – is actively changing. So “Cross-Country” as a movement is a way of re-approaching country music and recognizing that country music has roots across a bunch of different genres, and none of them can exist without one another,” BRELAND says. “Collaborations are important for a few reasons. One, it gives me a chance – when I’m working with someone new – to learn how they create and see if there are things I can be doing better or differently in my own creative process. And so, I’m reaching across the aisle to bring people with different perspectives together, and I think the more we can break down those genre barriers – where people don’t feel the need to ask, ‘what type of music is this,’ and simply realize, ‘wow, this speaks to me, or it doesn’t’ – the better off we’ll all be.”

With BRELAND the focus this month, fans can read all about his backstory and how he’s making an undeniable mark in country music here.

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