Kane Brown made country music proud when he was honored as one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People of 2021 Monday evening (September 20). Representing the genre at the TIME100 special, he performed his hit single, “One Mississippi.”
The Chattanooga native’s stunning performance landed him a rightful place in the lineup that also includes Shonda Rhimes, Dolly Parton, Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka, Tom Brady, Elon Musk, Billie Eilish, Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and more.
Brown and the other 99 honorees were all dubbed “extraordinary leaders from around the world working to build a better future, from entertainers striving to make Hollywood more inclusive to activists fighting for sustainability and human rights.”
Darius Rucker described Brown’s influence, pointing to an “unquantifiable ‘it’ factor for his profile in TIME Magazine on September 15. Rucker said, “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.”
Rucker mentioned push-back from radio programmers in his early days who expressed their audience would “never accept a Black country singer.” The Grammy-winning artist continued, “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.”
Comparing the 27-year-old to his contemporaries like Mickey Guyton and Jimmie Allen, Rucker is sure that Brown will be able to finally kick down the industry doors the preceding generations of Pride and Rucker helped push further open. He concludes, “Kane is setting the bar so high for the next generation. I hope kids see him and now think, ‘I can do that.'”
Brown’s selected performance song hit radio on August 23 and since has become the most added song on country radio. As of September 20, 112 stations added “One Mississippi” to their rotations. The song—co-penned with Jesse Frasure, Levon Gray, and Ernest K. Smith, and produced by Dan Huff—is Brown’s clever take on the all-too-relatable on-and-off-again relationship. Directed by frequent collaborator Alex Alvga, the “One Mississippi” music video features actor Ross Butler (Riverdale, 13 Reasons Why), who brings the story to life, capturing the drunken deja vu with familiar charm.
Watch Kane Brown perform “One Mississippi” for the TIME100 special, below.