Luke Bryan will kick off the 2018 CMA Awards live broadcast with a performance of his current single, "What Makes You Country," but he won't be alone. The superstar hints he will be joined by a few special guests, although he refuses to disclose who they will be.
“When we began talking about this performance I thought this would be a perfect time to share the stage with a few deserving artists who may not otherwise have an opportunity to be a part of the show,” Bryan shared in a statement. “This genre is full of talented performers doing what makes them country and this is the perfect song to let them step in the spotlight to be seen and heard by the millions tuning in.”
"What Makes You Country" is the title track of Bryan's sixth studio album. The Georgia native co-wrote the song with Ashley Gorley and Dallas Davidson, becoming a personal mantra for Bryan's life and career.
"What makes me proud to be country is the fact that I've navigated so many aspects of this career and held onto being country in a lot of ways," Bryan acknowledged. "I've gotten to follow all of my dreams and still remain true to who I am as a person. Be proud of what makes you country — there's room for everybody to be country."
Bryan is nominated for the night's highest honor, the CMA Award for Entertainer of the Year, a category he won in both 2014 and 2015.
"Winning my first CMA Entertainer of the Year Award is something that I’ll never forget," Bryan said. "It’s all of those memories of everything it took to get here and all the sacrifices and all the honkytonks and the late-night concerts and moving to Nashville and leaving your family and your friends, it all came together on that night. To get that from your peers of fellow country music artists was pretty amazing. You never forget it.
"You forever feel vindicated and you feel appreciated and you feel like you’re a member of a club, and you know no matter how long you live that you left an indelible mark on this industry based on how you go about it, how you entertain and perform," he added. "It was a big deal for me.”
Other nominees in the Entertainer of the Year category include Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban. The 2018 CMA Awards will air live from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Taylor Hill