Luke Combs is bringing a taste of country music to the Saturday Night Live stage this weekend, following the release of his second album. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is hosting the rerun, which originally aired hours before the Super Bowl in February. Combs follows in the footsteps of other country stars who have performed on SNL, including Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw and even Johnny Cash.
The 29-year-old Combs was born in Charlotte, North Carolina and grew up in Asheville, where he developed his musical talents. He later moved to Nashville, Tennessee to break into the country music world and released his first EP, The Way She Rides, in 2014.
Combs has released two albums, This One's For You (2017) and What You See Is What You Get (2019). Both albums topped the U.S. Country Albums Chart, and his second also topped the Billboard 200 Albums Chart. His hit singles include "Hurricane," "When It Rains It Pours," "One Number Away," "She Got the Best of Me," Beautiful Crazy" and "Even Though I'm Leaving." His latest," Does To Me," was released last month and features Eric Church.
Scroll on for a look at Combs' life and career.
Photo credit: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
He Almost Became a Homicide Detective Instead of a Singer
During a stop on Jimmy Kimmel Live last year, Combs said he wanted to become a detective before he decided to become a singer.
"My major was Criminal Justice," Combs explained. "I wanted to be a homicide detective, which is actually what I wanted to do. People are pretty surprised by a lot of times. But if you've noticed, I don't actually have the physical build of a police officer necessarily."
Surprisingly, Combs said he has seen some similarities between the music business and police work.
"I think it was solving the puzzle was the intriguing part for me, which is what I love so much about writing songs, because it's a puzzle that has no pieces," he explained. "So you make the pieces, then you have to put them together. That's the thing I like so much about writing music."
Combs Worked at a Bar and an IZOD Store Before Finding Stardom
Combs went to A.C. Reynolds High School in Asheville before attending Appalachian State University. During his time there, he developed a love for performing and dropped out a month before the end of his senior year to move to Nashville. Before becoming a star, he took several odd jobs, including one that taught him a valuable life skill.
"I was a bouncer at a bar, where I actually lived above the bar upstairs, and then I folded shirts at an IZOD store, if you can imagine that," Combs told Jimmy Kimmel. "My fiancée makes fun of me all the time, but I still fold my shirts the same way I did in that store, to this day."
Combs Got Engaged to Nicole Hocking in 2018
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Combs and Nicole Hocking have been engaged since November 2018. In October 2019, Combs told PEOPLE they plan to get married before the end of 2020.
"We're actually a lot farther along than I think we both thought we would be with our schedules," he said of wedding planning. "I'm excited about it. I really am. I'm looking forward to that day quite a bit."
The couple have been dating since 2016.
Combs Was Nominated for Best New Artist at the 2019 Grammys
Combs became one of the few country artists recognized in the Best New Artist Grammys category when he was nominated last year. If he won, he would have been only the fourth country winner, following LeAnn Rimes, Carrie Underwood and Zac Brown Band. Unfortunately for Combs, Dua Lipa took home the award.
Despite the loss, Combs moved on, sharing an emotional statement on Twitter about how the nomination changed his life.
This year, Combs was nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for "Brand New Man," his collaboration with Books & Dunn. However, Dan + Shay took home the award for "Speechless."
Although Combs did not win at the Grammys, he still has an armful of awards from country music awards shows. He won Male Vocalist of the Year and Song of the Year fo "Beautiful Crazy" at the CMA Awards last year.
Combs Will Tour with Tim McGraw in 2020
Although Combs is planning his solo What You See Is What You Get Tour, he will be joining Tim McGraw for two stadium dates this fall. Combs and McGraw will perform at the new SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Sept. 4 and at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park on Sept. 12. Both dates feature Midland and Ingid Andress as opening acts.
Combs' own tour is starting on Feb. 7 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri. His North American tour continues through July 18, finishing with Country Jam in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Combs Shares a Chart Record with Shania Twain
Combs' first album notched 50 weeks at the top of the Billboard Country Album Charts, tying a record held by Shania Twain. Combs recently told Billboard he probably would have broken it if his new album did not stop him from getting that 51st week.
"Tying the album record was really cool," Combs explained. "It's pretty interesting that we kept ourselves from getting the record, because the next week we put the new album out. So that was pretty awesomely poetic in a lot of ways. I'm not a guy that sits down and tries to really scheme, 'Well, we need to try to do this and break this record.' I definitely want to be the best at what I do, and I have the drive to be constantly improving at things, but in no way is that something that dominates my thoughts."
Combs' Song 'Even Though I'm Leaving' Left Him in Tears While Writing
Combs does not consider himself an emotional guy, but he admitted on ABC Radio in November that writing "Even Though I'm Leaving" was tough.
"I was in tears singing the work tape of that song when we wrote it. And I'm totally NOT the guy that's... so emotional," Combs explained. "And I don't know what about it hit me so hard. But something about that day was definitely really special. Just a really intense experience – getting through that last verse on the work tape was."
Combs wrote the song with Wyatt Duette and Ray Fulcher.
"Most of the time, when I see somebody gushing about a song that they wrote, I'm kind of like the 'roll my eyes' guy," Combs explained. "I'm like, 'Okay. Are you really doing that or are we just playing it up?' But that's probably the one instance [when] I was genuinely moved by something that I hadn't even experienced. I'm lucky enough to still have both my parents... and I can't imagine having to sing that song when that time comes."