Florida country singer Brooke Eden is doing pretty well for a girl in her early 20s. She's blessed with a set of pipes and has been graced with numerous opportunities in her budding career. In 2008, she made it to the top 65 of American Idol. The young blond was also named one of Vogue’s 10 Country It Girls.
Next week, Fort Lauderdale’s Tortuga Music Festival — the antithesis of Miami's Ultra Music Festival — will feature a lot of talented acts like the Zac Brown Band, Kenny Chesney, and Little Big Town. The glowing Brooke Eden will be among them too. We chatted with the country singer about collaborating with her heroes, the American dream, and her very first Tortuga.
New Times: How did it feel when Vogue called you a “Country It Girl”?
Eden: [Vogue] had somebody here in Nashville going to all the different shows, kind of scouting out fashion. I had no idea they were going to do that, and they chose me as one of their “It” girls. I love fashion, and I also have a fashion blog on CountryOutfitter.com that comes out every two weeks, and I just really love the creativity in fashion, putting outfits together and getting to match personalities and stuff with clothing. It’s a really creative process for me. It’s also really fun to, you know, kind of create an image for somebody based on clothing. I was honored to be part of Vogue’s Country It Girls.
You've opened up for Alan Jackson, Sugarland, and Florida Georgia Line. Do you have a favorite?
They were all really cool in different ways. Alan Jackson was like a living legend to me. Sugarland was really cool because I actually got to sing with them. I actually didn’t open with them, but I got to go onstage and sing “Baby Girl.” And that was a cool experience because I had just moved to Nashville from Florida, and that’s what the lyrics of the song are about: moving from your hometown to a new place for music and finding yourself in that career. And it was very true to my life at the time. And for Florida Georgia Line, it was cool opening up for them because they are the new wave of country and what’s happening next. I got to play with them when they only had one song out. They were brand new, and it was a really fun opportunity.
Who is your dream country singer to play with?
I have a lot, but I’m going to go with Eric Church. I just love his music, and I love how he really mixes country and rock together. I also would love to open up for Shania Twain because she is doing her last tour right now and I grew up listening to her. She’s a really big idol of mine.
What song would you sing with each of them?
Oh, that’s a great question! Shania Twain — I would want to do “Any Man of Mine” because that’s one of the first songs I ever sang when I was five-years-old. And maybe “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?”.
And Eric Church, gosh, that whole Chief album is really good. It’s really hard for me just to choose one or two. He’s just a badass man. He’s just so great. Maybe like...oh my gosh, I love "Homeboy." I would like "Homeboy", "Like Jesus Does" and "Jack Daniels."
You’re from Palm Beach County. What made you get into country of all genres?
My dad is a drummer in a country band in West Palm Beach. I was always involved in country ever since I was little. Country just has so much feeling to it and so much story to it. It always kind of just grabs at my heartstrings, ever since I was little. But probably because my dad was in a country band and that’s the only thing he ever played on our radio station. I think I kind of grew up in the redneck grape vine that’s in West Palm Beach [laughs].
How do you think Florida has shaped county music?
Florida brings a lot of sunshine and summertime to country music and I think it’s really cool what they’re doing as far as festivals and stuff, like Tortuga. It’s such an awesome kind of new wave festival. You can listen to country music and stay on the beach at the same time. That’s pretty badass.
Your song "American Dreamin'" is on Itunes. Can you elaborate on what the song is about and what made you write it?
Right after I graduated from college, I moved to Nashville and that’s when I wrote the song. A lot of my friends, you know, we all graduated from college with all this debt and a lot of them didn’t have jobs because of the recession and all the crazy stuff that has happened in our country. But what was so cool was to see that even though they didn’t have the jobs, they started creating new jobs for themselves and doing what they wanted to do instead of doing what they had to do, and really turning their passions into their paychecks and becoming a generation of entrepreneurs. We are able, as Americans, to make our dreams come true whether it was the way our parents did or not. And "American Dreamin’" means, for me, that no matter what people, terrorists, or other countries try to do to take our freedom and our jobs away, America will always give us the freedom to make our own lives and make our own dreams and give us the equality to do that.
So this is your first time performing at Tortuga, right? Why do you feel that South Florida is the best place to host Tortuga?
Oh my gosh, the beach! The beach and the sun. But also, there is nothing like having sand in your toes and listening to country music. The water, the sun — right there. It’s going to be awesome. Tortuga really brings you a unique experience.
Who do you look forward to seeing most at Tortuga?
Well, Sam Hunt is a good friend of mine. I’m excited to see his new set. I went out on the road with him for about three days in Florida in September of last year and we became good friends. His full set was definitely different so I’m excited to see his new set and I’m also a huge Little Big Town fan.
How was being on the seventh season of American Idol beneficial to you as both a person and a singer?
As a person, it was extremely beneficial because at the time, I was really young. It was my freshman year of college. I knew that I loved to sing but I didn’t know how hard I would have to work to get there and I think that doing American Idol was really the kick in my butt I needed to be like, 'Hey, there’s all these people out there that are doing what you wanted to do except they’re working harder so they’re going to get there faster than you are.' And to me, that was like, if you really want this, you better get your butt in gear.
And professionally, I guess it got my name around town more. But really, it was more of a personal thing for me just because it really showed me the other side. It showed me that I really wanted it and it showed me that I had to work harder than I was working to get it.
Brooke Eden. 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at 1100 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $99 plus fees and up. Visit tortugamusicfestival.com