“I’m not for everyone.” This mantra, a lyric stripped from their latest release Skeletons, has become a rallying cry for Brothers Osborne’s most recent album cycle. The simple, defiant phrase leads press releases, dons their merch, and titles their current expansive tour. But as their profile continues to grow and they rack up additional award nominations, it’s starting to feel more and more like everyone loves those “not for everyone” brothers.
Made up of T.J. Osborne, who takes lead vocal responsibilities, and John Osborne, the group’s lead guitarist, Brothers Osborne’s unflinching attitude has been garnering them unlikely success in the famously rigid Nashville country scene.
While they break the country music mold in numerous ways, from their mix of genres to their politics, the band boasts an EMI Nashville contract — and if their long list of CMA accolades is anything to go by, they’re overwhelmingly accepted by the national country music circuit.
At the 2022 Grammy Awards on Sunday, April 3rd, Brothers Osborne will perform and battle it out for a few golden gramophones; they’re up for Best Country Album and Country Duo/Group Performance. In the meantime, here are five things to know about the duo.
1. Yes, They Are Real Brothers
Brothers Osborne are true-blue, blood-related brothers. T.J. and John grew up playing in various family-based projects and, after a brief time of performing apart, naturally reconvened to form Brothers Osborne.
(Side note: T.J. Osborne stands for Thomas John Osborne. John Osborne’s middle name is Thomas. Meaning, the Brothers Osborne’s two core members are Thomas John Osborne and John Thomas Osborne, both born to their father John Thomas Osborne. It’s a minefield of same-names that makes even Gabriel García Márquez do a double-take.)
2. They’re the Only Mainstream Country Act With an Openly Gay Member
In February 2021, T.J. publicly came out in an interview with TIME magazine, which at the time made Brothers Osborne the only major-label country act with an openly gay member. “I’m very comfortable being gay,” T.J. told the outlet, while detailing the unconditional support he received from John prior to speaking about it publicly. “I find myself being guarded for not wanting to talk about something that I personally don’t have a problem with. That feels so strange.”
Elsewhere, Brothers Osborne has featured same-sex kisses in music videos, and T.J. shared a kiss with his partner at the 2021 CMA Awards.
3. They’ve Been Breaking Other Country Stereotypes For Years, Too
As anyone who’s had a conversation with an I-listen-to-everything-except-country-type knows, country music has somewhat of an image problem in the mainstream. Despite its enormous popularity, those outside of the country music world tend to boil down the genre to a few basic, not always desirable building blocks: rigid traditions, pick-up trucks and pointed boots, and, unfortunately, intolerance.
Enter Brothers Osborne, who have been breaking preconceptions faster than a blue-grass banjo melody. Beyond T.J. being proudly out, and their resistance to the much-maligned “bro-country” style, they were the first act signed to a major country label to publicly support a Democrat (Karl Dean’s 2018 campaign in Tennessee).
4. Their Influences and History Include Hank Williams — and Prog-Metal
Being lifelong country music fans, it’s not surprising that the duo will throw out names like Hank Williams Sr., Merle Haggard, or Waylon Jennings when asked about their influences. It’s similarly expected when they name drop contemporaries, like Jason Isbell, or country-adjacent staples, like The Rolling Stones. It may start to become eye-catching when the band discusses affinity for grunge, their friendship with Foo Fighters, or their love of Prince, but what will really throw fans for a loop is John’s old gig: playing bass for a friend’s prog-metal band. Maybe a future Tool collaboration is in order?
5. They’ve Been Nominated For Grammys Before
This year, T.J. and John are up for two awards — Best Country Album and Best Country Duo/Group Performance — bringing their total tally of Grammy nods up to an impressive nine. While the duo has yet to take home any hardware, perhaps 2022 will be the year they nab an award. (They also have six ACMs and five CMAs.)