Country singer Brooke Eden glows with the glow of engaged people as she counts down the days to her upcoming beach wedding, chats about travel preparations and mother-in-law bonding over text.
For the Florida-born singer, falling in love came hand in hand with learning to love herself as well. That meant taking care of herself after long tours made her physically ill, but also reintroducing herself to fans.
“This chapter of writing music was the first time I wrote just for me,” said Eden, whose new EP “Choosing You” came out in July. “I didn’t write what other people wanted me to say or what other people wanted me to write. I really wrote my heart, and it’s the first time I really wrote like in this self-love chapter in my life.”
Eden released her first new music in years in 2021 with a trilogy of sunny singles, including the Motown-inspired “Sunroof,” in which she introduced the world to her longtime girlfriend, now fiancé, Hilary Hoover. Her follow-up EP this summer delved deeper into the sound of soulful country pop as Eden explored her personal growth and resilience.
Eden spoke to The Associated Press about her decision to come out publicly as queer, escaping toxic situations and having a viral moment with country star Trisha Yearwood. Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
AP: The track “Left You For Me” is about escaping a bad relationship because you’ve learned to love yourself first. What did that message mean to you?
Eden: For me, this song meant letting go of all these expectations of what other people thought my life should be. My own expectations for my life. And it was really the first time in my life where I asked myself, “What would make you happy? What will make you feel like the best version of yourself?” And it was the first time I did it.
AP: The EP is written from the perspective of a person in love, and you became engaged to Hilary during the process. How much of your music reflects your personal life?
Eden: I write about love constantly because it’s something that was so foreign to me until I met my fiancé. Like, I never understood Taylor Swift until 6 1/2 years ago, because I was like, “Tears on your guitar?” Like, girl, get over him. He’s a jerk, anyway. And now I’m like, oh my god. If that ever happened to me, I’d cry on my guitar too! So love made me understand life so much more. And it helped me become a better writer. And I’m sure a better friend, more empathetic and understanding. And that feeds into my songwriting. It’s really cool to get to write about it from a first-person perspective of this is what love should feel like and this is what love shouldn’t feel like.
AP: What made you decide this was the time to come out publicly?
Eden: It took me five years of being in the best relationship of my life—with the one I knew was the love of my life—even before I finally got out. And so for me it was a few different factors that made me finally come out. One was that I was actually physically ill. I got ulcers in my small intestine that could not be cured with medicine. They could only be cured by me coming to terms with myself and aligning myself with who I was. And so there was a big light bulb moment of like, “OK if I want to be a healthy person, I can’t just be physically healthy. I have to be mentally healthy as well.” And you can’t be mentally healthy if you’re hiding a big part of who you are… And I read a book called “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle and she talked about integrity and defined it very clearly as integrity is when you are to the world who you are in your home. And I realized that I was living my life without integrity. And then I didn’t want to continue living my life without integrity anymore. So I called out to Hillary, my fiancee, and I said, “Babe, i just had this lightbulb moment. I’ve got to get out.” And she said, “Finally, thank God, praise the Lord.”
AP: There was this video trending on social media last year of Trisha Yearwood introducing you at the Grand Ole Opry. And she changed the lyrics to her famous song “She’s in Love With the Boy” so you could both sing it. What does it mean to have her support you like that?
Eden: She said: “People have come up to me after shows and said, ‘Hey, don’t tell anyone but I’m singing ‘He’s in love with the boy’ or don’t tell anyone but I’m singing ‘She’s in love with the girl.'” And she’s like, “I’ve always wanted to have a moment for that, and I just don’t think there could be a better moment than to celebrate their engagement and Pride month and the 30th anniversary of this song. ” … And just to get the reaction that we got from the Opry crowd, it made me feel like there’s a whole new wave of country music happening and everybody’s invited and everybody has a place here. And it’s a safe place here for the LGBTQ community and also other marginalized communities here in country music. … It was so huge. And to have someone as iconic as Trisha Yearwood to be the mouthpiece of love is love and not just saying that but actually putting action on those the words. It meant the world.
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