Music fans will soon get a deeper look than ever before at the moments that have shaped Luke Bryan’s life and career, in the five-episode docu-series Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary, which debuts Aug. 6 on the streaming platform IMDb TV.
The docu-series takes fans on Bryan’s journey from a child growing up in the small town of Leesburg, Georgia, to ultimately being named a five-time Entertainer of the Year winner.
Bryan recently told CMT about what it was like going through so much footage of his childhood and early career. “We had so much footage of early in my career and as my path to all of this was starting it made us really work hard to dig up old archives. It was amazing that we were able to find it, have it. I think it’s kind of a cool aspect that fans can see that this guy didn’t just roll into Nashville, roll the dice and make it. As a kid, I was out there working hard laying the foundation for what was to come of my career.”
The idea for the docu-series was sparked by Bryan’s longtime videographer Michael Monaco.
“He had so much footage and he came to me and said he really wanted to do this,” Bryan told CMT. “I said ‘no’ the first couple of times, because I knew it was going to be an undertaking. Finally, after he was staying on me about it I said, ‘Alright, let’s do it.’ He built a beautiful product and story. I’m so proud for him, and my family and team, that this story is coming out for people to see.”
Bryan recently told TV host Ellen DeGeneres during an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show that the docu-series was a natural progression of the work Monaco was already doing. “I was in the evolution of artists that started hiring camera guys to come out and document stuff for weekly posts and stuff. And through that, my director of the documentary, Michael Monaco, I mean, he was capturing my life. And there’s the challenges of trying to navigate the music business. But then the challenges of all of the loss of some of my siblings and family members.”
The docu-series is packed with footage of Bryan’s early childhood performances--including scenes of Bryan performing in high school musicals and playing small gigs around Georgia. The project's in-depth footage and interviews--including interviews with Bryan's mother LeClaire and father Tommy, wife Caroline Boyer, and Bryan's manager Kerri Edwards--recall many of Bryan’s mountain top moments, including earning his first No. 1 hit on the Hot Country Songs chart with “Rain is a Good Thing,” his triumphant first Entertainer of the Year win, ascending from arena shows to stadium headlining shows, and the launch of his Farm Tours, which give back to local farming communities.
The docu-series also details the stories of the personal tragedies Bryan and his family have endured, including the losses of Bryan’s two older siblings, sister Kelly and brother Chris, as well as the loss of Kelly’s husband, Bryan’s brother-in-law Ben Lee Cheshire.
In 1996, just as Bryan was gearing up to leave college and move from Leesburg, Georgia, to make his way to Nashville, Bryan’s older brother, Chris, died in a car accident when Chris was just 26 years old. In 2007, just after Bryan made his debut performance on the Grand Ole Opry, the family received the news that Bryan’s older sister Kelly died of unknown natural causes at age 39. Kelly’s husband Lee died following a heart attack in 2014.
Notably, also included in the docu-series is early footage of Bryan’s siblings, as well as interview moments with Bryan’s brother-in-law Lee, which were recorded prior to Lee’s passing in 2014.
“It’s so surreal to hear his voice,” Bryan told CMT. “I spent a big part of my life looking up to him and trying to make him proud. To hear all of these people, family members, say that they are proud of you is very special.”
Bryan says Monaco was inspired in part by a Kobe Bryant documentary, saying, “He wanted to tell stories in that aspect. I haven’t watched many documentaries on individuals, but I knew how they are supposed to be and they are supposed to tell the truth and tell a great story. I feel like we did in this one.”
Ultimately, Bryan wants his fans to hear and feel the full story of his life and career so far.
“I’m happy for my fans to see some of this stuff that is really behind the scenes and I’m excited for fans to truly see what made me who I am and what keeps me firmly planted on the earth. My upbringing and telling that story is a part of the reason I’ve been blessed to this day.”
See the trailer for Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary below: