Luke Bryan Cheekily Accepts CMT Artist of the Year Award

He Sings With Lionel Richie at Live Event in Nashville

“Wow, what a night! My cheeks are cramping,” a beaming Luke Bryan exclaimed when he accepted his CMT Artist of the Year trophy on Tuesday night (Dec. 3) in Nashville. But it’s his other set of cheeks that is getting most of the attention these days.

“It’s about a butt. Obviously it’s a butt,” he joked while the crowd at the CMT Artists of the Year special laughed and cheered. “I never intended for my butt to get this much attention! I might have to exercise more.”

Of course, Bryan has worked up a sweat in 2013 with No. 1 hits and sold-out concerts. Still, from the podium, he gave credit to his colleagues and musical heroes. Bryan specifically recalled the moment that Travis Tritt recorded “My Honky Tonk History,” which was Bryan’s first big cut as a songwriter. And he didn’t forget about the fans.

“It’s been an amazing night to sit back here and enjoy music and to see the different artists and what the artists are bringing to the fans. It’s all about these guys — the fans over here, on the edge,” he said.

“These are amazing, amazing nights, guys. It takes so much to make this stuff happen. It takes people believing in you and people rolling the dice and going, ’This guy’s not singing that great right now, but he smiles a lot and has fun, and he’s trying to make it.'”

Bryan also took a moment to acknowledge fellow Artists of the Year recipients Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Hunter Hayes and Tim McGraw. He accepted his trophy from one of his longtime buddies, Dierks Bentley.

Toward the end of his acceptance speech, Bryan credited CMT with one of his breakout moments.

“CMT, thank you so much for having this tonight,” he said. “It’s an important thing for me to say CMT because you guys gave me my first big-time television opportunity to do ’Country Girl (Shake It for Me)’ [on the 2011 CMT Music Awards]. Country radio, my management, my label, my band, my crew, everybody — love ya! Thank you so much for a wonderful night.”

Bryan capped the event with a rousing duet of “Oh No” and “All Night Long (All Night)” with pop icon Lionel Richie.