Rising country star admits Texas brisket is good, but Carolina pulled pork is better

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Kameron Marlowe is thankful to just have the opportunity to strum his guitar and sing a few songs.

The North Carolina-born singer, 27, came under the national spotlight in 2018 after appearing on the singing competition show, “The Voice.” After being sent home late in the season, Marlowe picked up his guitar and got to work.

In 2019, he released his debut single “Giving You Up” and subsequently the music video months later to the tune of 54 million views on YouTube. But just as Marlowe hopped on the boat to success, the COVID-19 pandemic took the wind out of his sails.

“After the pandemic hit, I had to completely restart in a way,” Marlowe said. “I had to remind people that I was around still.”

It was a long road to get himself back out there and in 2022, Marlowe released his debut album, “We Were Cowboys.”

Marlowe has been touring ever since and is gearing up to release his second album, “Keepin’ The Lights On.” on May 31. The “Strangers” singer is also nominated for “New Male Artist of the Year” at the 59th Academy of Country Music Awards, which will take place in Frisco on May 16.

Marlowe spoke with the Star-Telegram ahead of the ceremony and his concert with Parker McCollum at the ACM Lifting Lives Live in The Colony on May 15. This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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Star-Telegram: I know you’re on the “Strangers Tour” right now, so I wanted to check in and see how that’s going?

Kameron Marlowe: Oh man, the tour is going great. The crowds have been awesome. We actually just got to play in y’all’s neck of the woods at Billy Bob’s [Texas]. Had over 4,000 people there, it was nuts man. We really enjoyed playing there and just getting to hang out. So this tour is really going great, we’ve got great support with us and yeah, couldn’t be happier.

ST: I saw that. I was looking at tour dates and saw Fort Worth and thought, “He’s not playing a Billy Bob’s is he?.” I went back and found it and yeah, very cool. That’s a big venue here in Fort Worth, how was that experience playing there?

KM: That’s such a legendary venue. To go there and have people show up for my first time being there, man, it was really special. It was something I’ll never forget, for sure.

ST: I was curious, I read somewhere that this band you’re playing with is the same band that you formed when y’all were all 14 year olds. Is that true?

KM: I believe it was when I was 16-years-old. I met these guys probably when I was a sophomore in high school. They’ve been with me ever since. We’ve had a couple new members since then, but the core of the group is still the same guys from high school.

ST: I remember watching you on “The Voice” back in 2018, then you released your debut single in 2019 and debut album in 2022. You now have your second album coming out this month. Plus there was a whole pandemic in between all that. I was curious if you could kind of describe these last five years of your career, going from that debut single to now a second album?

KM: They really have been great. I feel like I’ve learned a lot, just from going from my first single into a pandemic, losing all momentum whatsoever. Had to completely rebuild, basically, man. After the pandemic hit, I had to completely restart in a way. I had to remind people that I was around still. It was a lot to rebuild and man it’s been great. This new album I’ve got is definitely way more mature and I think is a new side of me. I’m very excited. Golly, this year I’m actually nominated for an ACM award, which is wild. Things have been awesome.

ST: Yeah I was going to ask you about that. The 59th Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony is in Frisco, which is near Fort Worth. How was that experience waking up and seeing that you’re nominated for “New Male Artist of the Year”?

KM: Man, if I could tell 15-year-old or 16-year-old Kameron that you’re gonna be nominated for an ACM one day, I think he would tell me to ... yeah I don’t think he’d believe me [laughs]. I am very, very blessed and very honored that the Academy has had me and thankful for the fans that keep me going. Man, I’m just blessed all the way around and just lucky that I get to do this as a job.

ST: Very cool. I wanted to go back to your album for a bit. You said it was a little bit more mature than your first. What can you say about this new album coming out at the end of May?

KM: Yeah, this album is much more mature in the sense of there’s a lot of life stuff. It’s a lot of stuff that I’ve been going through the past two, three years. I’ve been writing this album for quite a while and I’ve limited it down to about 16 songs. There’s a lot of songs on there that I wrote and then there’s a couple of them there that I actually didn’t write. When I choose an outside song, it has to feel like it is me. Like I have to feel like I lived that song. But everything on there feels so true to me. Feels like stories that I’ve lived. Man, I’m just really excited to get this album out and see what happens with it.

ST: I’m excited that [the album] will be out soon. Along with touring this summer and fall, you’re performing with Parker McCollum leading up to the ACM’s on May 15 in The Colony. Parker is pretty big deal in Texas, what can you tease for the show?

KM: Parker is a great guy, man. I’ve gotten the pleasure of getting to know him over the last couple years. Yeah, we’re doing a show at the ACM Lifting Lives event at Top Golf. Man, it’s gonna be great. I think we’re setting up a stage on the Top Golf green, playing to the bays and there’s gonna be like a little pit area. It’s going to be really freaking cool. I’ve never done anything like that, but its definitely going to be cool.

ST: Besides the new album and touring, is there anything else you want to tease for the rest of the year? I believe you’re also going on tour with Lainey Wilson in Australia, right?

KM: We actually just did our tour with Lainey out in Australia, just got back a couple weeks ago. Man, that was a wild experience to go over to different countries and have them sing songs with you. That was a wild ride. I mean a long flight, but it was definitely worth it to go over there and see those fans. They’re so hungry for music over there. If I ever get the opportunity to do it again, I will do it in a heartbeat.

ST: Alright Kameron, one last question for you. I know you’re from North Carolina and you’ve been to Texas before, so I have to ask: Texas and North Carolina barbecue, what’s your favorite?

KM: Hey, if we’re going to go there, I’m going to say Texas has good brisket. But there ain’t nowhere that can do pulled pork like North Carolina. I’ll stand by it.

Kameron Marlowe is performing at ACM Lifting Lives Live at Top Golf in The Colony on May 15. Tickets are available here.