"I had this whole grand plan of what I thought life was going to be like," the singer-songwriter tells PEOPLE. "And it just all kind of flipped on its head"

By Tricia Despres
June 04, 2021 01:45 PM

Kameron Marlowe had it all figured out. The then 20-year-old kid from North Carolina would marry his girlfriend of five years, work at the local car dealership and together, they would make a nice home for themselves out in the suburbs somewhere.

But then she went and broke his heart.

"We both thought that was what we wanted," says Marlowe, 23, in a recent interview with PEOPLE about the breakup that changed everything. "And then, she ended up finding somebody else that she was interested in. I had this whole grand plan of what I thought life was going to be like. And it just all kind of flipped on its head."

Granted, Marlowe has already seen his share of detours in his life. In high school, the self-proclaimed music lover found a band to play with, but they weren't that good. In college, he studied music, but he would drop out after just one year. He would tell everyone that college simply wasn't for him, but that was a bit of a lie.

"My mom had got badly hurt at work one day, and she ended up having to have back surgery and was out of work," Marlowe remembers. "I've always wanted to make sure my family is taken care of, so I left college and went to work to make money so I could help the family out."

Kameron Marlowe
Kameron Marlowe
| Credit: Matthew Berinato

While all of this was happening, Marlowe even found himself landing in the Top 24 of Season 15 of The Voice, mere weeks before the big breakup. But soon after enjoying a bit of time in the spotlight, he found himself dragging a broken heart back to North Carolina, with no idea what to do next.

So, in an attempt to heal, he started writing a song. And it was that song "Giving You Up" that took Marlowe's life in a whole new direction.

"Without that breakup, that song would have never existed," explains Marlowe, who ended up signing with Columbia and releasing a self-titled EP during the pandemic-paused year of 2020. "And if we would have never broken up, I would have never gone and chased my dreams. And if I hadn't chased my dreams, I wouldn't be where I am right now."

And where he is right now is on the very cusp of country music stardom. Earning more than 156 million on-demand career streams in his still-young career, Marlowe's already distinguishable voice can be heard all over within addictive songs such as "Sober as a Drunk" and the drinking anthem of the summer "Tequila Talkin'." And come July, Marlowe will head out on tour with none other than country music superstar Brad Paisley.

"I'm looking forward to playing in Charlotte, in my home state and at the venue that I grew up going to," explains Marlowe, who still remembers seeing Dierks Bentley for the first time there. "It's going to be a cool moment for me to be able to go home and play to that crowd of fans from home."

It's also sure to be a burst of reality for Marlowe, who still doesn't seem to believe he is here, in this moment, at this pivotal time in the history of country music.

"Everything is kind of like moving at light speed for me," he admits. "And I'm just trying to hold on as best as I can and just basically see where it goes. I don't know. I love what I'm getting to do. It's a whole lot better than selling car parts, I can tell you that!"