After a little more than a decade in Nashville, Luke Bryan has ascended to the very top of the country music industry, and he shows no sign of slowing down. He kicked 2013 off with his first headlining tour, his first No. 1 album, "Spring Break…Here to Party," and his first gig co-hosting the Academy of Country Music Awards, which honored him as ACM Entertainer of the Year (he was named Top New Artist just three years earlier).
The singer, songwriter and entertainer grew up in Leesburg, where his parents bought him a guitar when he was 14. Only a year later, he was venturing out regularly to a local nightclub to sit in with other country singers from the area. After graduating high school, Bryan was preparing to move to Nashville when tragedy struck and his older brother Chris, with whom he was very close, was killed in an automobile accident. Devastated, Bryan changed his plans and moved across the state to Statesboro, where he attended Georgia Southern University, put together a band, wrote songs and played clubs. After graduation, Bryan went back home to Leesburg and worked with his family’s peanut and fertilizer businesses until his father, who believed in his son’s talent, practically pushed him out the door to Nashville.
Bryan arrived in Music City in fall 2001 and landed a publishing deal just two months later. As a writer, his cuts included "My Tonky Honk History" for Travis Tritt and "Good Directions" for Billy Currington. In 2007, however, he was signed as an artist to Capitol Records and released his debut album, "I’ll Stay Me," which included the singles "All My Friends Say," "We Rode in Trucks" and "Country Man." His sophomore effort, "Doin’ My Thing," yielded two No. 1 singles, "Rain Is a Good Thing" and "Someone Else Calling You Baby," both co-written with his close friend from Albany, Dallas Davidson. In 2011, "Tailgates and Tanlines" debuted at No. 1 on the "Billboard" 200 and included the No. 1 singles "I Don’t Want This Night to End," "Drunk on You" and "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye," as well as the fan favorite "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)," another Davidson collaboration.
In addition to his full-length albums, Bryan released a "Spring Break" EP (extended play) every year since 2009, and in 2013, stretched it out to a full-length. In December 2012, he was the top winner at the American Country Music Awards with nine awards including Artist of the Year, Album of the Year and Single of the Year.
As much success as has come his way, Bryan remains humble and appreciative of his roots. At a fund-raiser in Atlanta for the Georgia Music Foundation on January 29, 2013, Bryan told the audience, "It means so much to be from a state with so many musical opportunities and culture. Where I grew up, just the characters in my life, from the guy sitting at the curb, is enough to write a lifetime of songs. I’ll always be indebted to the state of Georgia."