Country music megastar Luke Bryan grew up knowing he wanted to be a singer. But after a personal tragedy, he put those dreams on hold where they would have stayed if not for his dad’s intervention.
Bryan spoke to Sunday Today about the upcoming docu-series of his life Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary for IMDb TV. The American Idol judge told host Willie Geist that he knew early on that he wanted to leave his hometown of Leesburg, Georgia, and move to Nashville. But, in 1996, the day before he was supposed to move, he got a phone call telling him that his older brother, Chris, died in a car wreck.
“When Chris passed away it was devastating because no one was more fired up about me going to Nashville than him,” Bryan said.
So, Luke Bryan put off his plans and he went to college instead. Afterward, he settled into a job working for his dad processing peanuts. But Music City still called him. However, he felt “anxiety” about bringing it up to his dad. But one day, as they rode home from work, Luke Bryan summoned up the courage and asked his dad about leaving.
He remembers his dad’s answer being one of “the greatest gifts.”
“I remember the color of the sky the day we were riding in the truck, and I had the anxiety of asking my dad what did he think about me moving to Nashville,” Bryan recalled. “And he was like ‘If you don’t go, I’m going to kick you out of here. I’m going to fire you. I’m going to make you go.'”
He packed his bags soon thereafter and left for Tennessee.
Luke Bryan Started Career Using Karaoke Machine
The Georgia native’s love of music began in a roundabout way. He loved playing sports, but he told Sunday Today that he started getting more attention playing guitar. He ended up performing in his high school’s theater club after the drama happened to hear him sing one day.
“When he heard my voice, he was like ‘You’re trying out tomorrow for my one-act play,’ and I’m like ‘I don’t think that’s my thing,'” Bryan recalled. “And he said ‘I don’t care if it’s your thing or not, I’ll see you after school.'”
He landed the part. But in his new docu-series, Luke Bryan‘s mom said his love of singing and performing started one Christmas morning when he got a karaoke machine.
In a clip from the upcoming documentary, his mom, LeClaire Bryan, said Luke’s career began with that machine.
“It all started with karaoke,” she says. “Santa Claus would bring you [a] karaoke machine. Luke could actually sing and entertain.”
And that karaoke machine served the country music star for a very long time. He used it to play gigs as a teenager because he couldn’t afford anything better at the time.
“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.”