‘American Idol’ Judge Luke Bryan’s Mom Speaks on How He Kicked Off Career Singing on Karaoke Machine

by Matthew Wilson

Luke Bryan has made a career behind the microphone. In addition to a litany of hits like “Drink a Beer” and “Country Girl (Shake It For Me),” the star has also found great success on the small screen as a judge on the popular music competition “American Idol.”

But according to his mother LeClaire, Bryan’s entire career can be traced back to a karaoke machine in his youth. It turns out country music may be without one of its biggest stars without a well-timed Christmas present. In the build-up to his documentary “Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary,” Bryan is putting his entire life on display.

“It all started with karaoke,” Bryan’s mother said in a clip from the documentary. “Santa Claus would bring you [a] karaoke machine. Luke could actually sing and entertain.”

Bryan himself remembers his fondness for the karaoke machine. In fact, Bryan used the karaoke machine to perform gigs when he was first starting out. He couldn’t afford any other equipment at the time on his road to becoming successful.

“I had a karaoke machine that I could plug my guitar into when I was 14 or 15,” Bryan recalls in the clip. “I would go play gigs and I would sing through that karaoke machine… It was all we had.”

Luke Bryan and Heartbreak

But Luke Bryan‘s life hasn’t been all rainbows and happiness. In fact, the country singer had to deal with some pretty great tragedies during his personal life. The documentary explores Bryan’s attempts to move past the loss of family members. And how he has tried to turn that loss into an opportunity to help others.

“I’ve had so many tragedies in my life,” Bryan previously told People magazine. “It’s almost like you don’t want to tell the story because you don’t want to feel like you’re out there craving sympathy.”

Bryan lost his older brother Chris back in 1996. The 26-year-old died during a car accident and left the singer devastated. Fast forward to 2007, Bryan’s sister Kelly also passed away at just 39. She passed from undisclosed natural causes. In 2014, Kelly’s husband Lee also passed as well. The 46-year-old passed from a heart attack leaving his three children orphans.

Bryan and his wife Caroline stepped up to the plate then. They chose to adopt the three children and raise them alongside their two sons as well. The Bryans now have a household of seven.

“You truly never get over it,” Bryan admitted. “You truly never settle in your mind that it’s happened. I mean, it’s always there.”

But Bryan has used his music as an outlet to channel his grief.

“If I can inspire people to move on from tragedy, hopefully by my behavior,” he told the outlet, “that’s what life’s all about for me.”