By Kurt Wolff
Anyone who’s followed the career of Luke Bryan for any length of time is well aware: In 2013, Bryan had the year of his life. As USA Today‘s Brian Mansfield noted in our video profile (watch it above), Bryan “had been one of the biggest country stars for a couple years. But 2013 was the year everybody else figured it out.”
Bryan’s big year truly kicked into gear during last year’s Academy of Country Music Awards ceremony. He cohosted the show for the first time (with his buddy Blake Shelton), and perhaps most importantly, he won the ACM’s covered Entertainer of the Year award, after being nominated for the first time ever. “I don’t think he expected it for one minute,” said Lorianne Crook, cohost of TV’s Crook and Chase. “He was so, so touched.”
Related: See all 2014 ACM Award nominees
From that point forward, Bryan was on fire. His headlining Dirt Road Diaries Tour quickly became one of the hottest tickets in country music, selling out every date. His 2013 album Crash My Party, released in August, wound up moving more than half a million copies in its first week and turned into the best-selling country album of the year.
And of course Bryan was all over the radio, thanks to his hit songs “Crash My Party,” “That’s My Kind of Night” and “Drink a Beer,” all of which reached No. 1.
All the while, Luke Bryan just remained … Luke.
“I often say that Luke is the same on stage, off stage, back stage, good days, bad days on sad days on happy days,” said Universal Music Group Nashville Chairman and CEO Mike Dungan. “Whether you’re fishing with him, or driving to the bank, or getting ready to go up and play in front of 35,000 people, he’s just ‘Luke Bryan.'”
The 49th ACM Awards will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 8pm ET on CBS.