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Introducing: Brooke Eden

By Jessica Nicholson

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As the coronavirus pandemic marches on and tours remain at a halt, singer-songwriter Brooke Eden and her longtime girlfriend Hilary Hoover have spent the past several months as many couples have; finding new forms of entertainment and tackling projects together.

“I’ve become a board game fanatic,” Eden says. “We’ve started to play board games, Euchre and dominoes. It gets super competitive. I’ve started dreaming of patterns and how to outwit everyone. We’re also renovating our barn behind our house to create a game hall. When everyone can get together again, we want to be with our family and friends, so we’re creating a space for that community.”

Though it seems they’ve been keeping themselves sufficiently busy, Eden has also dedicated this new-found time to recording new music, releasing some of her most authentic songs to date with the double shot of singles ‘No Shade’ and ‘Sunroof’. The breezy video for the latter focuses on Eden and Hoover riding in a Mustang on a sun-drenched day while exploring Eden’s hometown in South Florida, making it one of just a handful of country music videos to feature a same-sex couple. The video reached No. 1 and No.3 on the iTunes country music video chart and all-genre video chart respectively.

Despite having been together for nearly five years, Eden only formally made their relationship public in January. “We kept our love a secret for three and a half years. It was awful”, she captioned a video shared on social media. “About a year ago, we decided we wouldn’t be silenced anymore and started living our love out loud.”

‘Sunroof’, and its accompanying video, seem to capture a moment of fresh air for Eden, both professionally and personally. Speaking with Holler about the song’s impact, Eden opened up about the significance of her relationship, and the emotional journey she’s embarked on towards becoming fully – and unapologetically - herself.

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‘Sunroof’ has been such a hit since you released it earlier this year. How did it feel to watch as the video hit No. 1 in the charts?

It's so hard to even let it soak in. I'm very much a realist – and sure, I know it's real and I'm watching it develop, but I'm like, "Is this really happening? Am I going to wake up from a dream soon?" It feels very surreal.

Together, the two singles seem to chronicle your personal journey over the past few years. What inspired the idea for ‘Sunroof’?

We were picking up Mexican food for lunch, and I sat in the car when Hilary ran in to get it. We’d recently had all these ice storms in Nashville, so I remember opening the sunroof and feeling the warmth of the sun. I had this sense of giddy excitement, mixed with an overwhelming feeling of peace; just thinking about the hope and promise of spring. This is so hippy-dippy of me, but I thought, "This feeling reminds me of falling in love with Hil.” I just thought, "Wow, you feel like a sunroof."

How did you and Hilary meet?

It was about five years ago, on the first week of a radio tour. Hilary was one of my radio promotions reps. As soon as she walked down to the bus, I just had this overwhelming feeling of peace. By the end of the week, I had so much respect for her as a human, and I thought she was just the coolest person. At first, I thought, "We're going to be best friends,” but soon I realized, "Wow, I don't feel this way about my friends. This is a different feeling.” Luckily, she had the same feeling, so we went from there and we've been together ever since.

At the time you were developing your relationship, you also had a song, ‘Act Like You Don’t’, approaching the Top 40 at country radio. Did you feel, even in that early stage, that your relationship might have an impact on your career?

The first few years of our relationship were very secretive, and it was excruciating. We were told by members of my team - who are no longer on my team - that we could only be in a relationship inside our homes. It was terrible, because I had never been in love like this. When you love someone so much, you want to shout it from the rooftops, and there was none of that. It was all very, “You should keep this hush-hush.” For the longest time, I couldn’t help thinking, “I really want to be myself, but this hasn’t worked in country music yet.” When artists like Chely Wright and Ty Herndon came out at the same time as releasing music, they were essentially canceled. But everyone looks for love their whole lives, and I’ve found a special, extraordinary love. I was sure as hell not going to let that get away from me. I want to give hope to other artists and people who might be going through the same process - I hope our story can make it a little less scary for them.

What gave you that confidence to live your life fully?

I was reading Untamed by Glennon Doyle; one of the chapters talked about living with integrity. It mentioned living your life one way when you’re inside your own bubble, and then living it another way when you’re outside of it. How am I, as a human, supposed to live with integrity if I'm not living the same way both inside and out? Country music is supposed to be about authenticity. I knew there was no way I could put out music again and not be authentic. People at my label even tell me, “We want you to be the artist and the person you are.” There were just a lot of these little moments that led me to say, "I'm finally ready to be myself,” and live our love out loud.

What has it been like for the two of you weathering the pandemic together?

Getting to spend this much time with Hil has been amazing. We’re really good teammates. We’ve experienced so many great times and equally a lot of hard times, so at this point we feel as long as we’re together, we can get through anything. That openness and joy has led to me making all of this music that is just really happy. It’s really important to me to release music that has hope. That’s what we all need right now.

Sunroof is out now via This Is Hit / BBR Music Group. Brooke is the first featured artist of our brand new Introducing playlist - listen and subscribe below.

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Photography by Ford Fairchild