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Luke Bryan - I’ll Stay Me
By: Brianna Nightingale, CSO Staff Journalist

Luke Bryan learned all about hard work while he was growing up on his parents’ peanut farm in Leesburg, GA. His childhood was also the time when he acquired his love for country music.

“I had one of those little suitcase record players that I called my ‘rec-rec’; I would listen to Ronnie Milsap and Alabama on it all day and I mean ALL DAY,” he said in his website biography. With Bryan becoming increasingly more interested in music, his parents bought him a guitar at age 14 and by 16, he was writing songs twice a week with two other talented writers.

Everyone who heard Bryan play encouraged him to move to Nashville and expand his horizons. Bryan liked the idea. However, the day he planned to leave, his older brother was killed in a car accident. Bryan immediately cancelled all of the plans he had previously laid out and enrolled in classes at Georgia Southern University, which was close to his brokenhearted family.

The death of his brother influenced him greatly, giving him “a whole new appreciation for life,” he said. “You take each day as a special day. I don’t take anything for granted anymore.”

Once he had earned his degree and worked quite some time for his father, people began trying to persuade Bryan to attempt the move to Nashville once again. His father took him for a drive one day and said to him, “Music is what you were meant to do. You either quit this job and move to Nashville or I’m going to fire you.”

With that being said, Bryan moved to Nashville on the first day of September in 2001, performed at local clubs in his free time and was discovered a few months later by someone from Capitol Records. That eventually led him down the road to his debut album from Capitol, I’ll Stay Me.

Although it was just released in the middle of August, this contemporary country album has already helped create quite a fan base for Bryan. The CD includes 11 tracks, most of which he co-wrote. The title track, which has an enjoyable beat to it, describes how nobody is ever satisfied with what they have; we always want more.

LukeBryan1.JPG (383981 bytes)A few weeks after his album release, Bryan opened a concert I attended with “Country Man,” my personal favorite. He performed an outstanding show at an old rodeo barn called DC’s Country Junction in Lowell, Indiana. Bryan expected a much smaller crowd than he ended up with but loved every minute of it.

Besides “All My Friends Say,” the powerful, humorous tune that we heard on the radio first, there are two other songs that have vastly contributed to Bryan’s success. “Baby’s On the Way” earned Bryan his record deal and although it is not on this album, Bryan wrote Billy Currington’s number 1 hit, “Good Directions.” 

“Pray About Everything,” another one of my favorites (okay, I like them all), is one more hopeful tune included on the album; you won’t want to miss it.

“We Rode In Trucks” and “Tackle Box” are nostalgic songs inspired by his discoveries as a child while “The Car In Front of Me” continuously tugs at heart strings.

LukeBryan2.JPG (143786 bytes)Bryan’s debut album certainly deserves some dignified attention. Not only do these tunes sound great on a CD but his southern drawl and country boy look combine with his excellent stage presence to make these songs come alive during his live performances. Bryan’s tour is keeping him busy; he recently opened once more in the Chicagoland area for Josh Gracin at the Sandwich Fair in northern Illinois. Beginning again with “Country Man” and finishing with “All My Friends Say,” Bryan kept everyone on their feet throughout his 45 minute show. Also included in that set were “You Make Me Want To,” “Good Directions,” “Baby’s On the Way,” Conway Twitty’s “Lay You Down” and Bryan’s own “We Rode In Trucks.”

With everything he has done on his album and in shows, Bryan has made quite a great impression already. The fans are not the only ones loving every minute of his grand entrance to the country music world; he is too.

"The day I moved to Nashville and every day since then has been the best day of my life," Bryan said. “I don’t consider one thing I’ve done since I’ve been in Nashville work. Spreading fertilizer and hauling peanut wagons, that’s work. Doing interviews and playing for fun crowds, I’ll never consider that a job.”

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