Brian Kent’s life in the entertainment industry has morphed from touring as part of company, sharing the stage with such amazing talents as Kristine W., Crystal Waters and Martha Wash to being a songwriter and performer in his own right. “Whatcha’ Doin To Me” from Brian’s debut album as a solo artist, “Breathe Life,” put him on Billboard’s Top 40 Dance Charts for the first time and marked his second appearance on Sirius Radio’s Hot 20 Charts. Brian is climbing the charts again with his newest single, “I’ll Find A Way.” Reporting DJ Shane Phoenix brings us this interview.
Welcome, Brian! What a pleasure it is to sit down with you, and thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview.
Of course, my pleasure!
When did you first start singing?
My parents will say I was actually singing in the womb, but I pretty much started when I can first remember. I’ve always sang from choir to school to the car, I was always trying to make something happen.
What and when would you consider was your first big break?
Well, I think my very first single that I recorded, a cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” back in 2005, was a smart choice and really caught the ear of many people. The song had never been done like that so people began to become interested in who I was.
No doubt! The song has always kept me going and has been a part of almost every performance I do to this day.
You are one of the LGBT community’s most successful artists. What was it like before you came out?
Wow, that’s very sweet! There are so many successful artists in our community and certainly the ones that may not have seen due success helped pave the way for artists like myself. Before I came out life was rough…it was hard to pretend to be something I wasn’t…hard to hear people talk about who you were in a negative way without actually even being who I was.
Your first smash hit, “Breath Life,” featured a racy video of you with both men and women. You were criticized for not being gay enough by LGBT media. How did that affect you and did it reflect in your latest smash single and video, “I’ll Find A Way”?
In the video for “Breathe Life” I was not with anyone…I was walking down a street taking in life, spreading positive love and energy to the situations and people around me. Just because I write a song about an experience I’ve had, doesn’t mean I need to directly translate the video into a story about me. I want all people to relate to the message of a song first and foremost…in order to make that happen, I create the video in a way that doesn’t alienate anyone or make the specifics too defined. It leaves room for interpretation for everyone. The new video isn’t about being gay or me, it’s about people! People being people, all of whom struggle with their own battles in life.
Speaking of which, your new video “I’ll Find A Way” speaks about labels and the effect they have on people. What is it you hope your new song and video will achieve?
In this day and age, with so many problems in the world that exist because of labels, I thought it was important to remind the world that underneath what people label you are all of the wonderful things that you are! It doesn’t matter what people say because they only see that outer layer. You have to know what is under that – always – in order to keep moving. And for those people labeling and judging, the message is under all those labels, the one you place and the ones we place, we are all human beings alike. No one better than the other.
You have heard about all the teen suicides and bullying taken place. Were you ever bullied in school?
I honestly don’t know very many gay people that weren’t at some point. Those people must have covered it very well. I remember as far back as elementary school and junior high being bullied, name calling, feeling alienated and very alone. I couldn’t talk to my friends or my parents and there were very few resources, if any, at that time.
With places like Trevor Project and LGBT National Hotline in place, nowadays there is an avenue for teens and young people to go to. Where did you turn to help you through it?
I only had one place to turn…myself (Trevor Project and the National LGBT Hotline were not created at that time). It was hard, but somehow I knew that my difference made me special, unique and would offer me a lifetime of experiences so many people would probably never have. I didn’t want to be like everyone else.
Any thoughts of ending it all when you were going through this part of your life?
I won’t say the thought never crossed my mind, but it was brief and never really something I entertained. Probably because I knew I could never actually follow through with something like that. Despite my immediate unhappiness at times, I enjoyed so many other parts of life and that helped me get through. I think it’s so important now to teach kids that there is so much more beyond just who you love and who you are attracted to that should make your life meaningful and that being different is a blessing!
You are an international recording artist and have performed all over the world, with a huge following in Florida. When do you plan a return visit?
I just love Florida…especially since I moved to NYC. It’s offered me a much needed sunny getaway in the middle of the winter madness. I’m planning on being there in March, but no specifics on a performance yet.
We can’t wait for that. Now here is a hard question: You have been the winner of awards and accolades from all over the world, your fans love you, the media loves you and everyone claims the great artist you are….. Does Brian think that Brian Kent is as great as he is claimed to be?
I’m very proud of what I’ve done, but I don’t do it for accolades or awards. I think there are many great artists out there and I’ve been very blessed to be received by my fans who are the sole reason for any accolades or awards that happen. I worked hard and never stopped, especially when people told me I should.
Take our readers into Brian’s life for a moment. When the mics are turned off, no studio, no computers, just the TV and a night of relaxation – what does Brian do?
In an episode of “Glee” (air date: 11/23/10) we found that Kurt is leaving his school and New Directions because a bully is returning after being expelled; Kurt transfers to a new school. If this was real life and it was a friend of yours, would you would good move or bad move?
Well, that episode aired on my birthday so I haven’t seen it yet! Thanks! I think it’s very important to feel safe; however, running away from this would probably only cause more problems in the future when one got into real life. Learning to define yourself and defend yourself is a key component to a successful adult life. I would also be sure that as a parent or school official that the bully was dealt with. We need to start by spreading a strong message that this behavior will not be tolerated and there will be consequences. Start at the source, not the symptom.
Brian, you have had smash hits and now your new release “I’ll Find A Way” is skyrocketing up charts faster than NASA can track. What is next for you?
I’m working on a full length album release for next summer (fingers crossed), but until then there will be a new single coming out in spring with a music video shot by celebrity fashion photographer Mike Ruiz. I’m very excited about it and can’t wait to take that and the other new music on tour.
Speaking of great LGBT artists, as you have learned by now The 2010 Out Music Awards did not take place as scheduled on Dec 1, 2010, again disappointing the LGBT community for an awards show that features the best in LGBT music. You were nominated for an Out Music Award – how does this affect you?
Yes, I was nominated for Outstanding Single of the Year and my producer, Jack D. Elliot, was nominated for Best Producer of the Year. Very exciting! The postponement doesn’t really affect me as a whole, but I think it’s very disappointing to the out musicians who were really counting on this year being one of a stellar caliber. Unfortunately, the postponement may lead to a loss of integrity of the award, especially after last year, but my hopes are high that they will come back strong in the spring and knock the socks off everyone.
Any comment to the rumors of a new LGBT Awards show that is coming soon?
I’ve heard nothing about it.
Would you be happy to see one?
That entirely depends on the specifics. I think we need to focus on making one award show work first, whatever that may be, and get that solid, recognizable, and a solid reputation.
Brian I want to thank you so much for taking time out of your very, very busy schedule to sit down and talk with us and your fans.
It was my pleasure, thank you so much for talking to me!
You can see and hear Brian Kent’s latest release by going to his website at BrianKentMusic.com