Kane Brown Lauren Alaina surprise Rare Country/Hunter Kelly
Rare Country/Hunter Kelly

Kane Brown and Lauren Alaina celebrated their No. 1 hit, “What Ifs,” with a party in Nashville on Feb. 20, but they had no idea about the surprise guest who would be joining them onstage. The two country stars from north Georgia actually bonded back in their middle school days when they both sang in the school choir. During the party, their middle school choir teacher, Lamar Gillespie, a.k.a. “Mr. G,” made a surprise appearance to tell them how proud he is of their success.

You can see the shock on Lauren’s face as Mr. Gillespie made his way onstage for the reunion. It was the first time they had seen him since he taught them at Lakeview Middle School in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia.

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Mr. Gillespie said, “It’s crazy being from a small city. Most music teachers that teach really anything don’t have one person make it as big as these two have. But to have two in a little bitty town, it’s pretty crazy. I follow both of their successes, and I couldn’t be more proud of both of y’all. Y’all have done very good, and I’m so proud of y’all.”

Without that choir class, there’s a good chance Kane might never have pursued a career in music. As you can imagine, Lauren was the star of the school choir, but Kane was a little more reserved.

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Kane tells Rare Country, “She was excited to be in there, and I got forced to be in there as a class.”

Lauren adds, “It’s really funny because, obviously, I’m not shy or introverted in any way at all. I’ve never been. I loved chorus class. It was my very favorite. I ran that class. I’m just kidding.”

Kane agrees that Lauren really did run that class, but she did settle down long enough to take notice of Kane’s hidden singing talent.

Lauren says, “One day I heard him humming in class, and I was like, ‘Can you sing?’ He said, ‘I don’t sing in front of people.’ I said, ‘You’re going to today!’ I kept him after class, and he sang for me and the teacher.”


Kane sang Mercy Me’s Christian hit, “I Can Only Imagine,” for Lauren and Mr. Gillespie, and that was his first step towards becoming the country star he is today.

Through all of Lauren’s success on “American Idol,” Kane kept an eye on his middle school friend. Her success helped convince him that he could have a music career, too, so he started posting videos online showing off his vocal talent. Those videos quickly went viral, and now Kane is one of the top artists in the country format.

Lauren says of her pal, “It’s really crazy to think we’re from the same small town, and we both used really different ways to get to this point. I was on ‘Idol,’ and he posted those videos. Now, here we are. We get to celebrate it together with a song. I’m just honored. I’m super proud of him, and he deserves it.”


You both deserve it! Congratulations on all the success, Kane and Lauren!

Hunter Kelly is a senior correspondent for Rare Country. Follow him on Twitter @Hunterkelly.
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