Brandy Clark is fast becoming the "it girl" of country music, and perhaps no one is more surprised than Clark herself.

The singer-songwriter had already penned several hits, including Kacey Musgraves' 'Follow Your Arrow' and Miranda Lambert's 'Mama's Broken Heart,' before she released her own critically acclaimed '12 Stories' album in 2013. While on the surface it seems like Clark was destined to be a star, the fact that she is a lesbian made her wary of how the country music community would welcome her and her music.

Thankfully, Clark says her fears were quickly laid to rest.

"It has pleasantly surprised me how I’ve been embraced," she tells CMT Edge. "I don’t feel like my sexuality has been the focus in a negative way at all. I’ve tried to make it not even the focus in a positive way because I’ve wanted it to be about the music. It feels so good that it doesn’t really matter. And I think the success of a song like 'Follow Your Arrow' really exemplifies that. And I think people underestimate the country music audience. I think I did."

For her debut album, Clark shied away from feel-good songs and instead filled '12 Stories' with tunes like 'Take a Little Pill,' 'Hungover,' 'Illegitimate Children' and 'What'll Keep Me Out of Heaven.' The Washington native had a hunch that listeners wanted to hear about real life issues -- and her hunch was correct.

"[I've learned that people] want more of it. That they like to have a light shown on their frailties," Clark notes. "I always knew that there was that audience because those are my friends. Those are everybody’s friends. So it’s great to be hitting that audience."

The two-time nominee at the 2015 Grammy Awards says that she's grateful for the overwhelming support she's receiving, even though she understands that it comes with a large responsibility as well.

"I definitely feel like people, for whatever reason, have branded me as someone who is carrying the torch for traditional country music," she says. "And there’s no other torch I’d rather carry. But it makes me really think, as I go forward, 'OK, I want to be really thoughtful in my choices.'

"As someone who’s loved traditional country music my whole life, I don’t take that lightly," Clark adds. "My name is said in the same breath as people like Kacey and Sturgill Simpson, Ashley Monroe — like [we’re] saving country music, you know?

"I think about being a little girl," she continues, "and listening to those songs in my bedroom, and I think, 'Man, if somebody’s listening to my music, and it’s gonna shape the music they’re gonna make 25 years from now in a positive way, then that’s great.'"

Download '12 Stories' here.

Country Stars Who Have Come Out