Kane Brown has just released his full-length debut album, and he's poised to potentially become one of the breakthrough young acts in country music. But in a new interview, the singer shares the details of a very difficult and painful childhood, saying he hopes to be a role model.

The 23-year-old singer recently shared a new song, "Learning," in which he opens up about a childhood that included abuse. He tells Nashville's Tennessean newspaper that along with violence, he experienced racism and periods of homelessness in his younger years.

Brown is biracial, and he admits that growing up in Georgia, he was often the subject of racial slurs from his classmates.

"Color does matter, even though people don’t see it," he says. "I’ve lived it my whole life. It’s just what I know."

Calling himself a "poor kid," Brown says he and his mother sometimes lived in a car when they had no other place to go, while they alternately stayed with his grandparents or moved around between friends' houses when things were tough. He grew up listening to country radio, and after he attended his first concert -- a show with Chris Young and Brad Paisley -- he became determined to become a country singer himself. His performance at a high school talent show began with racial taunts from his classmates, and ended with them asking him for an encore.

The singer built his success by posting covers of classic country songs on Facebook, and his genuine country voice helped him amass a huge following online, which he parlayed into a record deal. Country radio has been slower to get on board, but Brown is hopeful that the same determination that has carried him this far will help him to overcome whatever other obstacles are still standing in his way. His latest single is "Thunder in the Rain."

“I just feel like I have a chance to be a role model now,” he says, adding that all he really wants is for people to look past his color, his piercings and tattoos and give him a chance.

“I just want people to know that I’m a good person, and I’m not a thug like everybody thinks I am,” Brown states. “I feel like I have my loved ones, but I have a lot of haters, too.”

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