HomeGrown: Kristian and Brandon Bush, Sugarland

Update: Kristian Bush told fans on his website this week that he's in the final stages of his solo album. The album will likely be out early this summer, but an official release date has not been announced. He'll perform at Blackberry Farm in Walland on August 31st.

Whether it's prime time or the concert stage, Sugarland entertains sell-out crowds.

"I love playing," says Kristian Bush. "I can't believe I get to do it."

And their fan base continues to grow. With more than 22 million record sales under their belt, the artists are now sharing their songs with the world.

"There's a real helping of blessing, there's a real helping of luck, and then, I think there's a whole bunch of hard work."

"When I talk to people who've known me my whole life, they claim I was clearly on this path," said Brandon Bush.

But, in those very early years, the path was more of a dirt road.

"We grew up in really the thick of East Tennessee," says Kristian. It wasn't like kind of East Tennessee, it was in the mountains."

Both Kristian and Brandon Bush picked up the violin at age four.

"We had one of those mothers that insisted on two or three activities everyday after school... lessons and everything. And, music's what stuck with us," says Brandon.

Their musical debut was at the Bush Beans Jamboree- an annual event for the familybusiness.

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"My brother and I performing violin at a very early age were the opening act for Dolly's performance at the Jamboree. and, I left the stage and received a big old hug from Dolly."

In grade school, their parents parted ways with Bush Beans and moved the family to Knoxville. The brothers continued to play music.

"I jumped over to drums, so I could be a heavy metal musician and Kristian picked up the guitar."

"The idea of being a musician was supposed to be a hobby," adds Kristian. "It's not a job unless you're Dolly Parton."

Still, at ages 13 and 11, the Bush Brothers were recording albums.

"There were two people that really turned my brother and I into recording artists and one was Doug Klein at Pick 'n' Grin," says Kristian.

"He's a guy that took time out of his life to inspire us," adds Brandon.

"The other person was Danny Brown," says Kristian, "He was so patient with us. I know, I have those recordings and they're terrible."

The brothers kept their music a hobby until after college. Kristian graduated with a record deal with Atlantic Records and was part of duo called "Billy Pilgrim."

"I did that for about eight years, traveled the world, opened for all these incredible people."

Then, Kristian came back to the Atlanta area and found the other half of Sugarland's duo, Jennifer Nettles.

"This corner is where we made this up. I looked at her and I said, 'let's write a couple of songs.' And then, we said, 'maybe we need to make a band.'"

Their breakout hit, "Baby Girl," the longest country charting song in history.

"It's a hero's journey and funny enough we wrote the song before we ever went on the journey."

Meanwhile, Brandon was touring the world as a member of the band "Train."

"And, while I'm on the road, they quickly become this platinum selling chart success."

They were living similar lives, but apart.

"We'd both be on the Tonight Show, but like a month a part. Or, we'd both be playing these festivals and we'd leave notes for each other back stages and stuff."

Finally, Brandon joined Sugarland.

Sugarland writes and records all of their songs in a garage turned studio. And, while they play the industry's biggest venues, there's nothing quite like coming home to Thompson-Boling Arena.

"I get chill bumps driving up. I remember tickets to John Cougar Mellencamp... I remember where I sat. Those moments boiled my blood. It made the dream start," says Kristian. "Playing at Thompson-Boling is the victory lap of for all of those people who held me up and believed in me when i was just a kid not bigger than the guitar itself."

"I think East Tennessee is a big part of who I am."

Brandon and Kristian Bush.

"Hometowns matter because of that, and they'll matter for the rest of your life."

Born in Sevierville,

"This one matters to me."

Homegrown in TN.


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