When he first wrote “Homesick,” Kane Brown was thinking about all the time he spends as a touring artist separated from his family. But not long after, when he was thinking about the listeners who might relate to the song from other perspectives, the military immediately came to mind.
“I was just trying to imagine — because I know how much I’m gone,” Brown explains to Country Now. “And these guys are gone for six months to a year before they get to come home and see their family, if they even do.”
After the song came out on Experiment, his second studio album, Brown says he started to hear from fans who knew firsthand what it means to be apart from their partners or families.
“I’ve had a lot of people, either wives or husbands, whose spouses are in the military say that the song means so much to them. And I’ve had people that are actually in the military reach out and say that the song means a lot to them,” he adds.
Now, Brown is highlighting veterans and active duty military members — along with the frontline and essential workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic — with a new remix of “Homesick,” which features three veterans as guest artists.
The veterans featured on the track are Generald Wilson, Retired Petty Officer First Class, U.S. Navy; J.W. Cortes, Retired Gunnery Sergeant, U.S. Marines and Sal Gonzalez, Retired Lance Corporal, U.S. Marines.
“The three guys that jumped on the song helped me realize even more how much they sacrificed,” Brown explains. “ The one guy was in the Navy for 21 years! So I can only imagine.”
To release the new remix, Brown partnered with Crown Royal and the Purple Bag Project, an organization that Brown had heard good things about from musician friends who’d worked with them in the past. For every stream “Homesick (Veterans Version)” receives, the Crown Royal Purple Bag Project will pack and donate one care package to the non-profit, Packages From Home. By the end of 2020, the Project aims to send off one million care packages.
In addition, for every stream of the new version of Brown’s song, the Purple Bag Project will donate one dollar to Minority Veterans of America, up to $100,000.
Since the remix was recorded in quarantine, each guest artist had to add their parts remotely. Brown’s team sent equipment out to the three veterans, and Brown actually wasn’t entirely sure what the new song would sound like until it was finished.
“They all had really good voices! I didn’t know what it was gonna sound like at first, so I was like, ‘Okay, now it makes sense,’” he recalls of the first time he heard the completed track. “They definitely sang it beautifully, and I’m glad they’re on it.”
Brown adds that he could see himself collaborating with military members and veterans again in the future. “It would be cool to write a song,” he reflects. “It’s always good for a writer to get different stories, different viewpoints.”
During the pandemic, “Homesick” speaks more poignantly than ever to the servicemen and women and essential workers who are unable to be with their families. For Brown, however, the song is not quite as relevant to his life as it usually is. Like most country artists, he’s had to wipe his tour calendar clean this summer amid the continuing threat of the virus’ spread.
And while the singer says he’s enjoyed his time off the road with his wife, Katelyn, and their 9-month-old daughter, Kingsley Rose, he’s ready to get back out on stage in front of his fans.
“I’m just hanging with the baby, hanging with the wife. It’s literally the same routine, every day,” he adds. “So we’re ready for this thing to be over and be back on the road.”