Luke Bryan walked away from the 56th annual ACM Awards with the night’s top prize on Sunday (April 18), scoring his third win as Entertainer of the Year. But even as one of the genre’s biggest stars and a side gig on ABC’s American Idol, he says he was shocked to hear his name called.
Talking with reporters via video chat after the show, the “Down to One” hit maker admitted he was surprised by the win. He actually went into the night thinking his Entertainer of the Year days were behind him.
“You never take these things for granted,” he said. “I’ve won two Entertainers of the Year [before], and there’s been some years where I thought I might have, should have one another one but I didn’t, so I think you kind of tell yourself maybe you’re done winning. And to win another one is very special.”
Bryan won his first ACM ETOY in 2013, stemming from the success of his third album, Tailgates & Tanlines. It was only a few years into his career, and he actually felt at the time that it came too soon. Then he followed up in 2015 after Crash My Party, and looking back, Bryan says it’s almost like there’s no rhyme or reason to how the chips fall. But that’s not why he’s in the game.
“My first Entertainer of the Year, when I won it I didn’t feel worthy, I didn’t feel like it was time, I felt like it might have been premature,” he admitted. “I think that the stars and the cosmos and the powers that be really make these things happen. … So I think what you have to think about when you’re in the midst of being an artist in country music, is you can’t get caught up in one year, you cant get caught up in two years, you have to be all in the middle of doing it because you love it.”
The superstar went on to say that winning the biggest award in the genre can go to your head if you’re not careful, but he’s been around long enough to keep his head on straight. Now it’s all about continuing to live for the musical moment, and being a role model for the artists on their way up the ladder. He wants to leave something behind for the next generation of stars.
“I think the bottom line is trying to have your feet on solid ground through all of this,” Bryan said. “When you start having success in music, you can get a little lost, and you can have a year where you weren’t happy with who you are as an artist, but things happen. I think just trying to have a nice, level-headed approach to hopefully creating a scenario where you can do this for many, many years, and that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do… and all I want for anyone coming up behind me is to have that opportunity, too.”
The 56th annual ACM Awards aired live on CBS April 18, taking place in Nashville for a second year due to COVID-19 concerns. Luke Bryan was crowned Entertainer of the Year, while Maren Morris took home Female Artist of the Year honors and Thomas Rhett was named the Male Artist of the Year. Check out complete coverage here, including a full winners list and videos of the night’s spectacular performances.