‘American Idol’ Judge Luke Bryan Talks ‘Tremendous Changes’ in the Country Music Landscape

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT)

His music career spans more than 20 years, and now American Idol judge Luke Bryan is opening up about the tremendous changes coming in the country music landscape. 

According to Insider, during a recent Television Critics Association (TCA) panel, Bryan, along with fellow American Idol judge Lionel Richie were directly asked about the lack of diversity in country music. A TCA member asked the duo, “Morgan Wallen uses a racial slur and he’s more popular than ever. I’m wondering what Idol can do and what you guys can do to address this issue. And maybe diversify country music more.”

Richie stated that he and other American Idol judges treat each contestant like family. “We represent America and the music business. And we come from very different walks of life. But at the time same, we can come together and celebrate one thing: Each other.”

When asked how that specifically solves the diversity issue going on in country music currently, Bryan spoke up. “First of all, there’s racism throughout the whole country,” the American Idol judge admitted. “Just to just sit here and single out country music as some kind of racist format is not altogether natural and true.”

The American Idol star explained he has been to various board meetings where he and others have recognized the problems as an industry. But things take time. “I think this country learns every day about the severity of racism. And like I said, I think sometimes you have to open your eyes. And [you have to] understand other people’s side of the story.”

‘American Idol’ Judge Luke Bryan Talks About Seeing Non-Stereotypical Fans at His Performances

Meanwhile, the American Idol also stated during the panel that as an artist he is always fired up if he saw an African-American fan or someone of a different color. Because they are not the typical country music fans. “It was always one of the coolest images in my world. Because that means I crossed over. And [I] touched somebody else that may be stereotypically somebody else wouldn’t agree with.”

The American Idol star also said that as country music learns, there’s a bigger audience out there for him and others as artists. As he continued to speak about country music’s growth, Bryan said he thinks he and other country artists are going to grow. 

“You are going to see tremendous changes,” the American Idol judge declared. “You bring up Morgan’s situation. That’s a situation that I think country music and the industry are doing everything they can to recognize. And these things take time. They take time in the National Football League. They take time as a country.”

Bryan goes on to add that when it comes to auditions for American Idol, he and the other judges just don’t care about what the contestants look like or what their sexual orientation is.