Humble, Texas native Curtis Braly knew he wanted to pursue music after performing at an eighth-grade talent show. Growing up, Braly was relentlessly bullied and found it hard to find connections with other people. His theatre teacher convinced him to sign up for the talent show and after his performance, he noticed how the crowd reacted and knew being on stage was his calling. “All of these kids who made my life miserable on a daily basis were in the audience. They stood to their feet and they were clapping and chanting my name,” he tells us. “It was this overwhelming feeling of love and acceptance that I had just never experienced from my peers before.” He found that the best way to connect to others was through performing and entertaining. He’s been chasing his country music dreams ever since.
He was highly influenced by artists like Reba, Garth Brooks, Clay Walker, and Dolly Parton. He would buy their concerts on DVD and watch them in his bedroom over and over again. He mentions that he would watch them closely to see how they performed and interacted with the crowd. In a way, he was studying their performances. “They were mentors of mine and they didn’t know it,” he says through a laugh.
Braly made the move to Nashville around six years ago and as a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, he was nervous. He had heard people in the industry talk negatively about gay people, say there wasn’t room for gay acts, and speak about how they’d never pay money to promote a gay artist. “I thought ‘I have a choice to make here: I can either be in country music, which has been the dream my entire life, or I can be gay.” He never said anything about his sexuality or made it public knowledge because he was rightfully scared.
Things changed for him in 2016 when he toured with legendary country singer Tanya Tucker. At the time, he was revealing bits and pieces about his personal life and his team had told him that her fans were conservative so he might get beat up after walking off the tour bus. They scared him so much he thought he might even die. He ended up touring with her on and off for about two years and found that his experience was completely different then what he told it would be. “Not one time did we ever have a problem with the fact that I was gay, out, and talking about it,” he says with conviction in his voice. “I would do meet and greets with Tanya after her shows and her fans who had no idea who I was before that night, would come through and they would shake my hand. They would tell me what a great time they had, and a lot of them would say, ‘We’re super proud of you for standing up for who you are and showing that you can do this in country music.’” He also mentions how Tucker would have gay fans who would also come through the line and give him big hugs and thank him for what he’s doing and proving to the world.
From then on, Braly knew the music executives weren’t giving country fans enough credit. Fans care about the music, having a good time, and experiencing a break from their own reality, anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can do that for people. When asked what his biggest piece of advice is for other LGBTQ+ people who might want to get into country music he says, “I would tell them, ‘stay true to yourself no matter what.”
Throughout his career, Braly has gotten to work with Kent Wells who has worked with some of his idols like Reba, Dolly, and Kenny Rogers. His latest single “That Should Be Me” was released on June 4th. The goal for the track was for it to appeal to everyone. Braly wanted everyone who listened to it, to be able to relate it back to their own life. The music video for the song is extremely eye-catching and tells a detailed story. “I wanted to do something classy, that wasn’t crude, but got people to pay attention,” he tells us. He had the opportunity to have complete creative control over the video and even directed the actors in each scene.
In the later half of the year, Braly will be hosting his fourth annual “Cruise With Curtis” with Carnival Cruise Line. The idea for Cruise With Curtis came after he had toured with Tanya, felt like he had hit a roadblock in his career, and needed a vacation. The idea was for Braly to take people he had met on the road on a cruise and play an intimate show for them. When he pitched it to Carnival they initially said “no,” but he went on to meet with their sales team in person where they told him the event could go on. The 2021 cruise is set to take place at the end of October into early November. “It’s over Halloween so we’re going to incorporate a Halloween costume contest and we’re gonna do group excursions together with everyone that comes. And hopefully do a show on the ship,” he exclaims. “It’s an opportunity for me to have a real intimate setting with fans, friends, and followers to get to know one another.”
To hear more of country music’s best new releases, head to our Playlists Page and follow The Nash New Releases playlist on Spotify. For the latest in country music news follow The Nash News on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok and don’t miss our brand new newsletter!