Luke Bryan’s “Drink a Beer” Gets Lady A Treatment

Country Trio Sings the Hit With Chris Stapleton at CMT Artists of the Year

Although Luke Bryan had to miss the Artists of the Year event in Nashville on Tuesday night (Dec. 2), he was certainly on everybody’s mind. Bryan had to cancel his appearance following the sudden death of his brother-in-law in Georgia over Thanksgiving weekend.

Lady Antebellum and songwriter Chris Stapleton perched on four simple stools to perform in the superstar’s honor.

Shortly after a segment showing Bryan’s remarkable achievements in 2014, ranging from massive ticket sales to multiple awards, Lady A’s Charles Kelley remarked, “As you just saw, our good buddy Luke Bryan had another amazing year professionally and was looking so forward to being here with all of you to accept this honor. But family comes first and sadly Luke’s family faced a tragic loss this weekend with the death of his brother-in-law, Lee.”

Kelley continued, “So, tonight we wanted to perform a song that’s very special to Luke with another of his good buddies that co-wrote the song. One of the best singers in the entire universe, Mr. Chris Stapleton right here. This song is called ‘Drink a Beer,’ and if you’re watching tonight back home, this one’s for you, Luke, and your family. We love you so much and our thoughts are with you.”

The performance proved to be one of the most emotional moments of the night. Fellow honorees Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban were shown quietly singing along in the audience. Lady A’s Hillary Scott provided a lovely counterpoint to Stapleton’s sandpaper vocal, giving the song the bittersweet feeling it deserved.

As the final notes rang out, the band and Stapleton sent out love to Bryan as the audience offered a sincere standing ovation.

A few minutes after the performance concluded, Bryan tweeted, “That was amazing. Truly. Thank you Charles, Dave, Hillary and Chris! Beautiful!!! Thank you fans for your love.”

Craig Shelburne has been writing for CMT.com since 2002. He is also a producer for CMT Edge, Concrete Country and Live @ CMT.