The Kentucky Gentlemen, photo credit to Sammy Hearn
Brandon and Derek Campbell, also known as The Kentucky Gentlemen, are a dynamic duo on the rise in the country music scene.
Hailing from Versailles, KY, the pair are native to the south and trailblazing a path to the music industry, showing up as their authentic selves and inviting others to do the same. Billboard has referred to their music as a “potent blend of pop, country and R&B,” and their single “Whatever You’re Up For” was dubbed “The most compelling commercial-country slow jam of the year” by Rolling Stone in 2022.
The pair often emphasize the importance of being true to who you are, finding and creating joy as it exists around you, and being the representation they often sought throughout their lives.
The Kentucky Gentlemen, photo credit to Laura Moll
Earlier this year, GLAAD’s Communities of Color and Media team caught up with The Kentucky Gentlemen to discuss more about their music, carving out space for Black and queer artists, and taking care of yourself in an industry that places high demands and pressure on your mental and physical wellbeing. Check out what they had to say below:
GLAAD: It’s so great to talk to you both again, and I’m very excited to share more of your work and insight with the world! Can you both touch on what originally brought the two of you to country music specifically and how your experiences and identities shape your music?
KY Gentlemen: We’re twin brothers who were born and raised in a small town in Kentucky. Country music is all about storytelling. Getting the listener to hear and feel something that cuts them deep or just gets their boots tapping and hips swinging. We’re ALL about a good time and we’re also all about telling our story in a way that’s relatable and real. That relatability and transparency pulled us into this genre. We always say we didn’t choose country music, country music chose us.
GLAAD: Do you have any goals in mind for what you want to accomplish with your music or within the industry?
KY Gentlemen: Our goal is not only to continue to create room in the country space for black and queer artists but to prove why there should have always been room for us in the first place.
GLAAD: For Pride Month you were able to work with Fancy Hagood on an Apple Music Exclusive Pride Special. What inspired you to perform ‘Better Man’ for the session, and what did that choice signify for you both?
KY Gentlemen: ‘Better Man’ was written by Taylor Swift and later released by both Taylor Swift and Little Big Town. Fancy reached out to us about this project and said that we immediately came to mind because we share this family blood harmony that LBT has on their track. This song is about a feeling and romantic situation that so many of us can relate to. It echoes the yearning to end up with the person you’re in love with but they just aren’t the right person for you at that moment. Essentially, letting go of what no longer serves your best interest. Being able to share that sentiment from our own voices in country music was so special. The project also features other incredible artists in our community, TJ Osborne, Brooke Eden, Jaime Wyatt, and She Returns from War.
GLAAD: As Black gay artists navigating a landscape where representation is slim, how do you find and build community to sustain yourselves and your art?
KY Gentlemen: No matter the environment, we choose to lean into joy and positivity. It’s taken a while but we’ve found other creatives and fans that see our vision and do what they can to help fulfill that and make us feel safe and at home. We are constantly looking for more of that audience that have not seen themselves in country music and that search and conquer always helps us sustain our art day in and day out.
The Kentucky Gentlemen, photo credit to Austin Dellamano
GLAAD: How do you, either individually or together, protect your mental health and peace while navigating your career? What does self care look like for you?
KY Gentlemen: We spend an ungodly amount of time as twins, career partners and socially together. SERIOUSLY ha! So protecting our mental health for us means one of us leaving the house and going shopping or cruising down a backroad by ourselves with music blaring just to get some individual clarity and peace. We respect each other as individuals so we try to give each other space when needed. We love a good nightcap bourbon drink as well. Never hurts.
GLAAD: Thank you so much for chatting with us today. Can you let readers know how they can best support you and where they can follow your work?
KY Gentlemen: You can find us on all social media @thekygentlemen. Give us a follow on Spotify! We’ve got brand new music and more tour dates coming very soon and it’s only going to get more country and fabulous from here!
The Kentucky Gentlemen’s upcoming single and music video, “Neon Cowboy,” is out later this month (October 27th) and available to pre-save now.