In both her music and her personal life, Brooke Eden has been able to be her most authentic self since publicly coming out in January.

Beginning in February, she released a series of three singles and music videos that show off her sonic inspirations and worldview like never before. She's now engaged to her longtime girlfriend, Hilary Hoover. She even sang a headline-grabbing, gender-swapped version of "She's in Love With the Boy" with Trisha Yearwood at the Grand Ole Opry during Pride Month.

Eden knows it's not a coincidence that everything's been falling into place lately.

"I'm definitely an all-in or all-out kind of person, and back when I wasn't quote-unquote 'allowed to be myself,' I just kind of turned into a shell of a human and became pretty robotic," she admits. "When I listen to my old interviews that I had [given] back before I was out, I just sounded like a robot — like, I was just giving pre-manufactured answers ..."

"To me, there's no question as to why the music didn't work and why it wasn't connecting as well, because I wasn't connecting, you know? I was just such half a human," she adds. "Being out and being authentic has completely changed my world in pretty much every way: personally, professionally, as an artist getting to write and not be worried about what anybody thinks about what I want to write about ... It's completely opened up my world to be able to be myself, and made life so much easier."

In another fortuitous twist, everything's coming up Brooke Eden as live music is resuming in ways closer to its pre-COVID-19 pandemic form. In June, she played her first Pride concert event, in Los Angeles; come September, she'll play another in Nashville.

"This was the first Pride festival I'd really gone to, let alone sang at, so I had no idea what to expect," says Eden, who's played her fair share of country music-focused festivals but never an event that paid no regard to an artist's genre.

"Just being a part of my community was so much fun; it was, like, so loving. Everyone was so supportive and had each other's backs ... It was just so much love, and it just felt like this community that, no matter what, had your back," she continues. "There were kind of no boundaries or labels at all. It was just like, 'Let's come and be proud and love each other.'"

On Thursday (July 22), Eden will play another particularly exciting concert: her first at Nashville's venerable Exit/In as a headliner. She first took the venue's stage in the mid-2010s, as a new artist, for an industry showcase.

"My first Exit/In show was kind of the catalyst that got me my record deal and publishing deal and all the parts of my team," she recalls, adding that being kept off the road for a year due to the pandemic — and the recent sale of the Exit/In, which leaves the venue's future uncertain — gives the show even more weight.

"There's so much weight to shows right now in general, just because none of us have played in so long. Something that was so second nature to all of us, like breathing, hasn't been a part of our lives for like a year and a half now," Eden says. "So getting onstage in general just brings a whole different emotion right now, because it's like, 'Wow, this is finally happening happening again — we're finally getting to do what we love again, with fans that we love again.'"

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