Luke Combs Kicks Off “Artists Of The Year” With “Forever After All”

"This is for the fans, this is for country music," Combs said during his acceptance speech.

From North Carolina to Nashville, Luke Combs is taking country music by storm.

Combs opened this year’s CMT Artists of the Year event with a performance of his hit single, “Forever After All” — inspired by the marriage to his longtime partner Nicole Hocking in August 2020.

After an introduction by Lady A’s Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott, and Charles Kelley, Comb’s meteoric rise was recapped in a video where the singer confessed that “music was always a place that I could go to escape. So I wanted to be able to give that to somebody else. The records, and the number ones, and whatever else comes along with it, that’s just icing on the cake.”

Jason Kempin/Getty Images for CMT/Viacom

“I just wanted to put out music that I felt people would like,” he added. “People need music right now more than they ever have.”

Comb’s friend and fellow country music star, Eric Church sent a heartfelt video message saying that “by any definition, his music has made him a certified superstar.”

Then when the “Cold As You” singer took the stage to accept his award, he started off by saying, “Thank you to the fans, thank you to everybody sitting in this room, my beautiful wife who couldn’t be here tonight… Everybody in this room who pushes me to be better.”

Combs then shouted out country music legend Randy Travis, who was there to accept the “Artist of a Lifetime” award, and told him, “Just to have a small fraction of the impact on country music like you have is incredible.”

Combs closed out his emotional acceptance speech by saying he didn’t feel like he was worthy of the honor: “I honestly don’t feel like I deserve this,” he said. “This is for the fans, this is for country music, this is for everybody. I love you guys, thank you for letting me do what I do.”

Watch Combs’ emotional performance of “Forever After All” in the video below.