Virtually unknown just a year ago, Florida Georgia Line will be honored alongside Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Hunter Hayes and Tim McGraw at the 2013 CMT Artists of the Year special airing Dec. 3.
It's not exactly an overnight success story, but few country artists have experienced the sudden career explosion Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley have enjoyed since the December 2012 release of their album, Here's to the Good Times. "Cruise," the album's debut single, smashed multiple records in country music and even became a crossover hit in a remix with rapper Nelly.
"It's unbelievable," Hubbard recently told CMT Hot 20 Countdown. "We've been truly blessed. I mean, really, it's crazy to even think about that, but we're just out here working hard and having fun with it. The fans have been amazing, and country radio has been great. Everybody's been supportive. So, fingers crossed, we can be out here for a while."
What's more, "Cruise" has gone six-times platinum and spent 22 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's country songs chart -- the longest reign of any song in the chart's 69-year history.
Not only did Florida Georgia Line release two singles this year, including "Round Here" and more recently, "Stay," but their remarkable year was also highlighted by wins at the ACM, CMA and CMT Music Awards shows. Kelley and Hubbard admit they only dreamed of success like this.
"It's pretty surreal. It's crazy," Kelley said. "I mean, if you would have told us years ago that would be the case, we would probably tell you you're crazy. The Lord's blessed us in ways unimaginable. Our fans speak volumes about the loyalty and passion of country music fans -- and our fans, in general. It's just been a ride. We're just getting started."
Florida Georgia Line gained a solid fan base early in their career while opening shows for Taylor Swift and Luke Bryan. With a headlining tour of their own, the two have yet to play a show that hasn't sold out.
Looking ahead to next year, Hubbard and Kelley feel optimistic and confident.
"We never really put pressure on ourselves," Hubbard said. "We just do what we love -- write songs that we love, record songs that we love and try to get better to make our live show the best they can be. That's just kind of what we do.
"Next year, we're gonna go out with [Jason] Aldean. We're gonna have a lot of fun, play about 60 shows with him, do some headlining stuff and record a new album, work as hard as we did this year."
For the first time, the CMT Artists of the Year special will premiere live on CMT and CMT.com. The show airs Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. ET.