Kane Brown

Kane Brown

Sony Nashville

Kane Brown has defied the odds, shattering the traditional mold of radio play to break through the noise. His nomination for New Male Vocalist of the Year at this year's ACM Awards is an indicative of a bold new world, supported by streaming takeover and social media. But, "I feel like you still need radio," Brown tells AXS.com over a recent phone call. "That’s what we’re fighting for right now. You don’t need radio if you’re trying to have a small career. But if you are trying to do arenas and all that, you definitely need radio."

While he didn't win the award (fellow noisemaker Jon Pardi takes home the trophy), Brown says it was still a life-changing moment. "I was just super pumped me and my team got the recognition we’ve been trying to work for. We don’t have the radio factor yet, which I think was a huge thing that hurt us. I’m excited we’re getting noticed," he says.

Hailing from a small town in Georgia, Brown recollects the ACM Awards being a fixture in his life at a young age. "My nana had them on TV. She’s a huge Reba fan. I was a little young to realize what everything was, but I remember watching them," he reminisces. Much like him, his family had a pretty chill response to his nomination. "My family is like me. They’re laid back. They thought it was cool and excited for me to go for my dreams," he says.

If given the chance, he would collaborate with anyone, really, on the Las Vegas stage. "I would love to collaborate with anybody in country music. I just feel everybody has something different they can bring to a song," he says, rather hopeful for what is coming next in his career--which he would love to include an Album or Song of the Year win at the ACM Awards.

Brown's new single "What Ifs" is slowly gaining traction at country radio, thanks in small part to Lauren Alaina's soaring harmonies. "[This song] came easily. We kind of already had the concept of what we wanted to write. It’s such a talked-about subject. What if this; what if that. I hear it all the time," he says. "We recorded the demo together. We were just needing a backup singer, and Lauren just killed it. We brought her vocals up even more and she amplified it by 10. When we actually recorded it for the album, she recorded [her parts] separately."

The 52nd annual ACM Awards go live April 2 on CBS at 8/7c. Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley will host.

Stay tuned to AXS.com for any and all updates.