Like millions of little kids, Luke Bryan listened to his musical heroes and wanted to be a country music star when he grew up. Unlike most of those other kids, Bryan has achieved his dreams as he prepares to release his latest round of new music, the seventh and final installment of his unique “Spring Break” series- “Spring Break…Checkin’ Out.”
He’s sold more than seven million albums, 27 million tracks and has 12 No. 1 hits and back-to-back double-platinum albums. He celebrated his best touring year ever in 2014, performing for 1.7 million fans. He’s a two-time Entertainer of the Year. A television host.
What was the difference between Bryan and all those other dreamers? Bryan realized a little bit of singing and songwriting talent, a dimply smile and a pleasant voice will only take you so far, so he decided to work at it.
Sure, he listens to his musical heroes as a fan, but he analyzes them, too. Even as he reaches more eyes and ears than ever before, he continues to work on his voice with the goal of making it as supple and emotionally thrilling as Conway Twitty’s.
He might be singing about late-night parties and lazy long weekends up there on stage, but in reality he’s up and working out in the morning so he can work it out at night for fans. He’s even managed to find a way to turn personal tragedy into inspiration allowing the untimely deaths of his brother and sister to illuminate his own journey and those of his fans who’ve struggled with loss of their own.
“When you work hard, take life moment by moment, stay positive and trust in the bigger picture, moving forward is the only path to take,” Bryan said. “I know that this is my moment for my career, for my friends and family, for making my time matter. I don’t take a second for granted. It’s cliché. But it is true. Live life to the fullest every day. Every moment counts.”
Bryan releases “Spring Break … Checkin’ Out” in stores and digitally on March 10. The previous six installments of the series have sold more than 1.1 million copies. The album will include five new songs and all six cuts from the “Spring Break 6” EP. Fans also will be able to buy the deluxe, limited-edition commemorative “Luke Bryan Spring Break … The Set List: THE COMPLETE SPRING BREAK COLLECTION” ZinePak with all 25 songs and a 48-page magazine with exclusive interviews and photos from each of the previous spring break releases exclusively at Walmart and Walmart.com.
It’s not exaggerated to say the Spring Break shows were an important proving ground for the 38-year-old Leesburg, Georgia, native that helped him reach his all-around entertainer status.
“It’s been amazing going to Florida for the Spring Break shows each year,” Bryan said. “We’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from the fans for new songs and new tour ideas through those shows.”
An Entertainer of the Year trophy signifies that the winner has reached a level of success in every important area- single spins, album sales, tickets sold, fan engagement and charitable endeavors.
Bryan has grown his fan base at a steep rate since the release of his debut album eight years ago and the spirit of the Spring Break music and shows infuses his persona. His popularity reached a new peak in 2014 when Bryan won his second major Entertainer of the Year, the Country Music Association’s industry-voted award, along with nine other awards-show trophies.
He played for more than 1.7 million fans, selling out four stadiums and 11 back-to-back nights in major markets, setting venue records, connecting with fans and conquering critics at every stop. The Washington Post noted his “infectious everyman persona,” while The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called him “the biggest star in country right now.” The folks at buffalo.com thought his performance went even farther: “His songs may be rich in country themes, but Luke Bryan transcended country, and was by all measures and in every sense of the word, a rock star.”
His tireless album “Crash My Party,” which had the biggest debut week at the time for a male country artist in more than a decade continues to resonate with fans 18 months after release. He recently scored a record sixth consecutive No. 1 singles on the Mediabase country chart from the double-platinum record (“Crash My Party,” “That’s My Kind of Night,” “Drink A Beer,” “Play It Again,” “Roller Coaster” and “I See You”). He also became the first person to have the Billboard Country Airplay Nos. 1 and 2 songs simultaneously with “Play It Again” and “This is How We Roll” with Florida Georgia Line. “Crash My Party” placed five songs at the top of that chart.
And 2015 will bring even more milestones. After concluding his Spring Break run with free concerts at Spinnaker Beach Club in Panama City Beach, Florida (more than 230,000 attended last year), Bryan will co-host the super-sized 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at AT&T Stadium where he’ll take the stage with good friend and straight man Blake Shelton for the third year. He’s also up four awards at the ceremony, including the fan-voted Entertainer of the Year and Song of the Year for “Drink a Beer.”
Bryan was visibly shaken after his ACM Entertainer of the Year win in 2013 and was at a loss for words following his CMA win last November. He joins a very exclusive pantheon as the 17th artist to win the award from both organizations, joining icons like Strait, Brooks, Loretta Lynn, Kenny Chesney and childhood favorites Alabama.
“It’s the pinnacle of your career,” Bryan said. “It means your fans and your peers appreciate what you’ve tried to do and that is to make good music and put on great shows.”
Fans will have ample opportunity to see one of those shows this year. He’ll conclude the sold-out “That’s My Kind of Night Tour” with his first European dates, hitting Norway, Sweden, Germany, Ireland and Great Britain. With barely a break, he’ll launch the “Kick The Dust Up Tour” in May with 50+ dates planned, including seven stadium shows. He’ll headline the Houston Rodeo and Country Thunder festivals. He’ll even get his own exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, opening in May. And he’s got other surprises in store as the summer unfolds.