Luke Bryan Closes Out the 2021 CMA Awards With Live Debut of ‘Up’

Check out the night's final performance here!

Written by Naomi Parton
Luke Bryan Closes Out the 2021 CMA Awards With Live Debut of ‘Up’
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - NOVEMBER 10: Luke Bryan performs during the 55th annual Country Music Association awards at the Bridgestone Arena on November 10, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for CMA)

Luke Bryan debuted the first live performance of his brand-new single, “Up,” at the 55th Annual CMA Awards. Bryan was introduced by his friends, Florida Georgia Line, who nodded to the song title by calling him, “A superstar who helped a lot of us on the way up.” 

On a dim stage with blue lights, Bryan stood in front of a microphone with his guitar. With lyrics about faith, football and small towns, he pointed up to the ceiling as he sang of “a guy looking down on us.” His tone was reverent and his gestures mimicked a preacher on Sunday morning. Closing out the show, Bryan reminded everyone he doesn’t need to shake his hips to move a crowd.

Making his debut as CMA Awards host, Luke Bryan was revealed as the night’s emcee back in October, and said at the time he knew it would be a challenge.

“Being asked to host the CMA Awards was definitely something I put a lot of thought into before answering,” Bryan announced. “The pressure that comes along with that can be overwhelming, but knowing I get to help honor and celebrate so many of my friends, I knew it was something I couldn’t turn down.”

“Up” is the Georgia-born superstar’s current country radio single — and the sixth one off his Born Here Live Here Die Here album, which sent all five of its previous singles to Number One status. The track is part of that album’s Deluxe edition reissue and was written by Jeremy Bussey, Taylor Phillips, and Bobby Pinson.

Back in their usual format after the pandemic-impacted 2020 show, the 55th Annual CMA Awards aired live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on November 10. The night featured dozens of performances and awards presentation for a glitzy ceremony dubbed “Country’s Biggest Night,” and, you can check out Sounds Like Nashville’s full coverage here.