There were many times early in Brooke Eden’s singing career when she performed in front of sparse crowds. She often wondered if her dream of making it in Nashville would come true.
Disappointments like those could derail careers before they even get started. But Eden’s commitment to realizing her dream, as well as enduring some unpleasant setbacks, steeled her for the arduous road to country music stardom.
Now, with her first EP for Red Bow Records slated for release later this year, Eden (BSBA ’11) is closer than ever to making a major breakthrough in Nashville.
But before she learned the ropes of country music—sharing stages with the likes of Alan Jackson, Tim McGraw and Sugarland—Eden was learning about the business behind the music scene at Warrington. While she could have majored in a music- or arts-related field, she believed a business education was the ideal complement to a performing career.
“I knew I was going to move to Nashville, and I didn’t want to go in completely clueless with what the world would hit me with,” said Eden, whose real name is Brooke Halvie.
Eden’s freshman year at Warrington was memorable for her appearance on American Idol. She advanced to Hollywood, and won over judges Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and the usually harsh Simon Cowell, but her appearance was portrayed in an unflattering light.
Although it pained her to be portrayed that way to millions of viewers, there was a lesson to be learned—a lesson that helped create the edgy and soulful brand of country music she’s known for.
“I was so excited about the potential of being on that show,” said Eden, 27. “I thought it was going to be my gateway into the music industry. I certainly wasn’t portrayed the way I wanted to be portrayed, but that was a good wakeup call for me. It made me grow a thicker skin, for sure, and lit a fire under me to work harder.”
Eden was more determined than ever to become successful, but she was also practical in her approach. Eden waited almost a year before departing for Nashville in 2012, and continued to work and perform near her hometown of West Palm Beach. She wanted additional time to refine her skills, and save more money so she wouldn’t have to find a part-time job.
“I’m an all-or-nothing type of person,” Eden said. “When I got to Nashville, music was going to be my job 24/7.”
Eden wrote songs during the week, and performed either in Nashville or back in Florida on the weekends. She was living her dream, but doubt was a constant companion.
“I loved what I was doing,” she said, “but there were definitely times where I felt, ‘Oh my gosh! Nobody showed up to my show! Nobody knows me!’
“But the more I did it, I saw progress. One show a week turned into two shows a week, which turned into five shows a week. I never wanted to be an overnight success. I feel like I’ve earned where I am.”
After two years in Nashville, Eden’s hard work paid off when her self-released single, “American Dreamin,’” received significant playtime on Sirius XM’s country music radio channel, The Highway. She caught the attention of Red Bow Records—a label imprint of BBR Music Group that features well-known country artists like Jason Aldean and Trace Adkins—and signed with Red Bow a few months later.
In December 2015, she released her debut Red Bow Records single, “Daddy’s Money,” a hard-charging anthem honoring her blue collar roots. The hit is most representative of Eden’s raw strength and energy.
“There’s honesty in my songs,” said Eden, who’s written more than 100 of them. “When I moved to Nashville, there were a lot of sweet, girly songs on the radio. I’m writing songs from a different perspective with more of an edge.”
And that refreshing sound is resonating with country fans across the U.S. Eden is winding down a national tour that will culminate at the Billboard Hot 100 Music Festival in New York. From there, she’ll put the final touches on her EP.