Katelyn Brown reckons she has participated in Berklee Online classes from every state in the continental US.
“It’s so crazy to think about, but now that we’re talking about it, I’ve probably done them twice in every state,” she says.
She then rattles off the dizzying string of events that led to her accessing Berklee’s curriculum from so many different locales. Waitlisted at Berklee for the on-campus program, she studied at West Chester University, and dropped out after a year to pursue a career as a pop singer. She signed a management deal with Johnny Wright: the empresario who signed Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and still manages Justin Timberlake. She moved down to Orlando to hone her act, but after four years she began to feel frustrated that she wasn’t growing as an artist. She then fell in love with country singer Kane Brown, before his star had begun to rise: they met at a bar in Tampa called the Dallas Bull, where Kane happened to be performing. She hit the road with Kane, and decided to put her own performing career on hold to apply to Berklee Online’s Music Business undergraduate program.
“Since I’ve been with Berklee, Kane was out with Florida Georgia Line, then we did a tour with Chris Young and then with Jason Aldean and then Kane’s own tour,” she says. “Everyone else on the road sleeps late and I would go get my coffee in catering at the venue, go back to the bus or sit in the venue and do homework for four or five hours, until people woke up. So since we started over three years ago, we’ve been on the road almost every single weekend and the only time we’ve gotten a little break is around Thanksgiving and Christmas and that might be two weeks.”
She and Kane married in October of 2018, and Katelyn even made sure she did her homework in between the wedding and the honeymoon.
“I knocked my whole week out in the beginning of the week,” she says. “This is what’s so great about online: you can do it when you want to.”
She says she’s so proud of her diploma that she insisted on framing it and hanging it on the wall amongst Kane’s gold records, a placement that makes sense, because Katelyn’s education about the music business has helped her husband as well.
“I started realizing that the things I was learning in school were what he was dealing with in real life. So if Kane came home and he had a question I’d often be like, ‘You know, you don’t have to do that, right? They’re just telling you you have to do that. You’re the artist, and you can do whatever you want to do,’” she says. “I think sometimes on the business side of the industry, they look at artists like, ‘They trust us to run everything. So we’ll just tell them what we think are the best choices.’”
Kane says he also noticed that the program helped more than just Katelyn’s business acumen. In addition to the Music Business courses, she also earned credits from courses like Commercial Songwriting Techniques and Developing Your Artistry.
“I love Berklee because it pushed my wife even further in her music abilities that I already thought she was incredible at,” he says.
Katelyn knew that if she was going to continue pursuing a performing career, she needed the business knowhow. She recalls being a teenager, and feeling like she was too easily persuaded to make decisions that other people thought were best for her, but just didn’t feel right in her gut.
“I feel like that’s the reason why I felt held back and things weren’t progressing,” she says. “I told my mom, ‘I don’t want people to tell me what to do and I don’t have the knowledge to back up my decision or to argue what I feel is right.’ So I wanted to know the business side.”
Now that Katelyn has graduated, she’s considering whether or not she wants to get back into performing, or to focus on business.
“I fell in love with the business side and my husband and I talk a lot about starting our own label or publishing company,” she says. “But then I also have this extreme creative side of me that loves to write, who loves to sing. So now that I’ve been out of Berklee for a month I’m ready to get back into a creative project.”
To cap off Katelyn’s monumental year, she and Kane are expecting their first child this fall.
“I had no idea all of this was going to fall in the same year, but I’m glad it did,” she says.
Below is Katelyn’s inspirational Instagram post about her graduation, captioning a photo of Kane and her:
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today was one day I will never forget. I’m not going to write anything too sappy, but finishing my education was the most rewarding thing I have done for myself thus far. If you are thinking whether or not your going to get your degree or if you can get through the years of college … DO IT ! This was the best decision of my life !! I spent a lot of days trying to get good WiFi on the bus to turn in assignments , or sitting finishing homework watching everyone else have fun around me, or thinking do I actually need to do this ? I had to ask for help along the way & some days needed extra encouragement, it was by no means “easy” …. but here I am on cloud 9 and got to walk across the stage with our daughter and cannot wait to teach her one day to be a strong, independent woman and that she can do anything she wants to in this world!!! Congrats to all the other graduates across the world and thank you @berkleecollege for giving me the tools and education that I will carry with me the rest of my life! Thank you to my family & friends ! And of course my amazing husband @kanebrown_music who made me feel that getting my degree was so cool and continuously expressed how proud I was making him😭😍👩🎓 can’t wait to start my next journey ! BTW : the oldest person who graduated with us today was 65, so it’s NEVER TO LATE 🙏🏼