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Cameron Hawthorn is an all-out country star

Cameron Hawthorn is out in the country and a long way from home.
Photo credit:
Cameron Hawthorn - Facebook

Cameron Hawthorn is getting his first taste of real fame. Not too long ago he released the video for his song "Dancing in the Living Room" that made headlines because it was also his national coming out story. So how does a gay man from Kansas who loves country music relocate to the west coast and take his place at the table? A lot of hard work, determination and most of all, unmitigated talent.

When I first watched the video I was immediately struck by how much Cameron resembled the legendary singer-songwriter Ricky Nelson. His pouty lips, green puppy dog eyes, and casual country vocals are the blueprints to becoming an industry sex symbol.

I asked him how he has been handling his new-found stardom. “It’s been crazy," he said, keeping it low key. "It’s been so exciting.”

Cameron is no dummy either. Sometimes artists find themselves so caught up in their talent they forget about the possibility of failure and don't have a back-up plan. But Cameron has two: a degree in theater and one in communications from Universtiy of Southern California. 

"I went to USC for four years and then I moved for a little bit, moved to Dallas for about three years, " he says. "My parents are there now. And then I came back out here for music. And I’ve been back for about five years now.”

The west coast is Oz for a thirsty artist, but it can be a culture shock once you get here. There's plenty to love, but LA's double-time nature can make you feel homesick really quick. Cameron seems only slightly unphased because he's been out here so long, plus he can always visit his parents in Texas which isn't exactly where he's from but it will do. 

“I do love the California sun," he laughs. "Dallas is a nice in-between of where I grew up in Kansas and then you know the big, crazy city of LA."

He explains that he was able to cultivate his feelings for LA, but his roots and heart belong elsewhere. 

"Because I went to USC there’s something familiar about LA and you know the grind is here," Cameron tells me. "Everybody’s chasing after their dream and that’s really inspiring to be around.”

I wanted to talk to Cameron about the video. If you haven't seen it, it's an ode to couples and how music and dance can inspire them to remember love with an impromptu box step. 

The 30-year-old romantic said he created the song and the video after reflecting on a place in his own life. 

“It was all my dream concept really," he says. "I wrote the song and I wrote it about dancing with him—with my boyfriend at the time -- and it was just my dream to make this video that actually showcased me dancing with a guy because that’s truly my story.”

Although many reported that this was Cameron's official coming out, as it happens it's actually his second. 

“I came out in November on social media," he explains. "I went and saw Boy Erased and Bohemian Rhapsody. It was like two nights in a row that I saw these movies and I was just so moved that I felt like I had to—there’s was something in me that made me feel like I wanted to do that. So I came out then, and then this video. I guess it’s sort of the piece of art that I wanted to put out there that was totally me you know?”

But why country music? It's no great shock that the genre has always been considered a straight man's domain. It's conservative by nature.

“Country music is definitely a part of my roots. I grew up in Kansas. I grew up on country music. My grandparents lived in Oklahoma when I was growing up and I would just go to their house and listen—I can just remember country music being on the radio on their back porch.”

That back porch was like a jukebox of influence. He grew up on some of the genre's best and continues to be inspired by them because he wants history books to remember his name too. 

"I mean yeah, I was just listening to the Everly Brothers, Patsy Kline, and George Jones. These are artists that I think are legendary, they will never go away; that’s the kind of artist I want to be is an artist that’s around for hundreds of years.”

I tell Cameron that I grew up on country music too and lived through its huge crossover in the 80s and it's dominance in the 90s. He may have been a little miffed at me for asking him my next question which was about how country isn't that common on pop radio anymore. I wondered if he thought the genre was flatlining. 

“I mean, I don’t really know, there’s definitely country radio -- then there’s crossover artists," he said, his voice turning confident. "I’m just trying to make music that is true to me, that’s true to my story. At the end of the day I’m a storyteller and I want to tell stories about authentic, real things that have happened to me, that’s my calling I think as an artist. And this video, this song is about love. That’s what I’m about; love.”

And "Dancing in the Living Room" is definitely about love. Love that's not bound by any rules. we see all kinds of couples having a moment including Cameron in a subtle twist. That's the genius of the video and his story. We only see Cameron singing solo in the beginning and if I didn't know better I would assume he is straight. That is until he himself starts dancing with his onscreen boyfriend at the very end. 

I think the whole thing is meant to turn stereotypes and traditional country music conventions on their heads. But that's all a part of Cameron's plan, isn't it? To be authentic 

“I’m a storyteller and you know songwriting is so important, and writing songs and being able to release songs that are my story, that’s number one to me.”

Cameron's journey has been a full-time adventure. It takes a thick skin to leave everything behind, including family, to pursue a dream. The determination to prove you have what it takes especially in a genre that has been historically straight only adds to the stress. But the singer is making it work and this song is a paver on his way to staradom. 

"I’m so inspired by the messages and the comments I’ve been getting," he says. "It truly is the most inspiring thing to see. You know, the LGBT community and beyond come around this song. I’m excited to see what more buzz comes from this and also there’s definitely going to be more music to come.”

And as for that ex-boyfriend he had in mind while writing the song, well, they've talked. 

“We have a great relationship, he’s a wonderful guy and yeah he sent me a really nice message.”

I mention again he appears to have everything it takes to be a top-10 artist and like Ricky Nelson before him a sex symbol.

“A what?” he laughs.

You can listen to Cameron on subscription services such as Spotify or iTunes. The "Dancing in the Living Room" video is below.