A Measly 5 Years After Signing His Record Deal, Luke Combs Is the Face of Country Music

by Jim Casey

A measly five years after signing his record deal with Sony Music’s Columbia Nashville, Luke Combs has become the face of country music. If you don’t like the word “face,” “voice” will suffice. The man is packing venues and topping the charts, with no signs of slowing.

It’s true. You can drop all the names you want, but Combs is trending to become country’s kingpin. And I predict Luke will solidify his spot by taking home his first CMA Entertainer of the Year Award on November 10. It’s just a guess, so don’t bet the bank on it. But I like Luke’s chances.

Now, I didn’t say Luke Combs was country music’s biggest star. The global reach of Carrie Underwood and Garth Brooks, among others, still extends farther than Combs’ command. Nor did I say Luke Combs was country music’s most talented star—everyone has their favorites, so I won’t get into that pissing contest, excuse my French.

But no one’s career is hotter. Luke is on fire—NBA Jam-style.

Five Years Ago?

Back in September 2016, Luke Combs was opening for Corey Smith on his West Bound & Down Tour. Let that sink in for a minute. You may even have to Google “Corey Smith.” During a stop at the Top Hat in Missoula, Montana, on Sept. 27, Luke signed his record deal with Columbia. An unprecedented streak of hits followed, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

Luke built a rabid following throughout his home state of North Carolina before moving to Music City in 2014. While Luke is now 31, he really didn’t start plucking the guitar until he was a 21-year-old at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. He’s come a long way in 10 years. He’s come an even longer way in the last five.

Since officially releasing his debut single, “Hurricane,” via Columbia Nashville in October 2016, Luke has sold more than 20 million singles. And all 11 of his singles have reached No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart

Amazingly, Luke’s 11 singles have spent a combined 40 weeks atop the Airplay chart: “Hurricane” (2 weeks), “When It Rains It Pours” (2 weeks), “One Number Away” (1 week), “She Got the Best of Me” (4 weeks), “Beautiful Crazy” (7 weeks), “Beer Never Broke My Heart” (2 weeks), “Even Though I’m Leaving” (5 weeks), “Does to Me” (2 weeks), “Lovin’ On You” (4 weeks), “Better Together” (5 weeks), and “Forever After All” (6 weeks).

Man, Luke probably views “One Number Away” as a failure for only peaking at No. 1 for a single week.

Luke Is the Face

Luke Combs’ new single, “Cold as You,” is currently No. 12 on the Airplay chart. Additionally, Jameson Rodgers’ new single, “Cold Beer Calling My Name,” which features Combs, is currently No. 3. Don’t be surprised if both singles hit the top of the chart. Be surprised if they don’t.

And, yes, Luke has a new album in the works, following his 2017 debut, This One’s for You (50 weeks at No. 1, which tied Shania Twain’s Come On Over), and his 2019 sophomore set, What You See Is What You Get (six No. 1 singles, which tied Luke Bryan’s record for the most on one album).

At the 2020 CMA Awards, Luke took home the trophies for Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year.

2021 CMA Entertainer of the Year? As I said, I like Luke’s chances. That’s a helluva of a five-year plan.