Kane Brown's "One Mississippi" was a particularly life-changing song for co-writer, Levon Gray. After the Alabama native tagged Brown in an Instagram Story, the country star invited him to Nashville to co-write; Brown was so impressed, he not only cut the song, he signed Gray to his Verse 2 Music.

Brown and Gray co-wrote "One Mississippi" with Jesse Frasure and Ernest Keith Smith, but to hear Brown tell it, Gray did much of the heavy lifting. Below, the singer shares the story behind the song, in his own words.

This song is very special to me just because I got to sign a new writer off of it. This is the first single that we worked on together.

His name's Levon Gray, from Alabama. He tagged me in an Instagram Story, and I saw it, brought him up. We wrote a song — he brought the title and the meaning behind it, and this was his first cut with me ... So, thank you, Levon.

Best Country Albums of 2021 - Critic's Pick

There have been many creative country albums in 2021, but not all have hit the mark. Artists are more than ever toying with distribution methods and packaging as much as they are new sounds, so you get double and triple albums, Part 1 and Part 2, and digital EPs in lieu of a traditional 10 or 11-song release.

The bar for an EP on this list of the best country albums of 2021 is higher than an LP, but one project did crack the Top 10. Too much music proved to dampen other artist's efforts, although Alan Jackson's first album in years was filled with country music we couldn't turn away from. Where Have You Gone has 21 songs, but somehow no filler.

More than ever, this relied on staff opinion and artistic merit to allow for some parity among major label artists and independents. The 10 albums listed below are not ranked, although the year-end list published in the fall will crown a true best album of 2021.

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