Luke Bryan released I'll Stay Me
Fans drawn in by Luke Bryan’s boyish, down-home charm soon discover what’s behind it: an intelligent wit, an off-the-wall sense of humor and a unique take on life. They also soon discern that he is a talented triple threat vocalist, songwriter and musician. Bryan had his first guitar by age 14, by age 16, he was regularly writing songs and leading his own band. His intention was to move to Nashville and pursue a music career after his high school graduation. Sadly, fate had other plans. The day he was scheduled to move, his older brother, Chris, was killed.
Artist: Luke Bryan
Title: I'll Stay Me
Release date: 08/14/07
Buy at: Amazon
Bryan immediately scrapped his career plans, choosing instead to stay with his family. He continued to write and play music, and eventually enrolled at Georgia Southern University. It was there that Bryan’s talents really blossomed.
Even before his first single, “All My Friends Say,” had been sent to country radio, Bryan was earning significant media attention, including being named one of Billboard magazine’s new faces to watch in 2007. At the same time, his second major cut as a songwriter—Billy Currington’s “Good Directions”—was quickly climbing the country charts and eventually hit the top spot.
Bryan signed with Capitol Records Nashville in 2004 and released his debut album, I’ll Stay Me, in August of 2007.
Fans drawn in by Luke Bryan’s boyish, down-home charm soon discover what’s behind it: an intelligent wit, an off-the-wall sense of humor and a unique take on life shaped by experiences both joyful and tragic.
They also soon discern that this boy next door is a talented triple threat vocalist, songwriter and musician.
Even before his first Capitol Records Nashville single, “All My Friends Say,” had been sent to country radio, Bryan was already earning significant media attention, including being named one of Billboard magazine’s new faces to watch in 2007. He was the only country music performer selected for the honor. Bryan was also included in Country Weekly’s “Who’s Hot in 2007” feature and the single was chosen as an iTunes “Discovery Download” of the week.
At the same time, Bryan’s second major cut as a songwriter—Billy Currington’s “Good Directions”—was quickly climbing the country airplay charts and eventually hit the top spot on the country singles charts in May 2007 giving the Georgia native his first #1 song (two straight weeks) … as a songwriter. Bryan’s first major cut was the title track to Travis Tritt’s “Honky Tonk History.”
Countrified is something that comes naturally to Bryan. He grew up helping his farmer father harvest peanuts, corn and cotton in Leesburg, Ga., a tiny town that just got its first traffic light two years ago. But Bryan seemed destined for a different career. Even as a small child he recalls being drawn to music.
“I had one of those little suitcase record players that I called my ‘rec-rec’ and I would listen to Ronnie Milsap and Alabama on it all day, and I mean ALL DAY,” he remembers.
Bryan had his first guitar by age 14, and was playing in a local bar at 15. By age 16, he was regularly writing songs and leading his own band. It was during this time he also got involved in playing with his church youth group.
“It’s kind of funny,” he recalls. “Wednesday nights I’d be playing for church groups and then Friday and Saturday I’d be playing Alan Jackson, George Strait and Clint Black at some little old dives in Georgia.”
His intention was to move to Nashville and pursue a music career soon after his high school graduation, a goal his family enthusiastically supported. Sadly, fate had other plans.
Bryan had lined up a Nashville apartment and a roommate, but on the very day he was scheduled to move, his older brother and biggest supporter, Chris, was killed in what Bryan calls a “freak car accident.”
The experience, Bryan says, is “the worst thing anybody could ever go through. It’s the most life-altering event.” But at the same time, such a harrowing occurrence brings with it “a whole new appreciation for life. You take each day as a special day. I don’t take anything for granted anymore.”
After the accident, Bryan immediately scrapped his career plans, choosing instead to stay with his family during their painful ordeal. He continued to write and play music, and eventually enrolled at Georgia Southern University, not far from home. It was there that Bryan’s talents really blossomed as he performed with his band nearly every weekend.
Even after college graduation, Bryan refused to reconsider moving to Nashville and went to work for his father’s businesses, a peanut mill and fertilizer plant. But he was unhappy and remembers feeling “something wasn’t right.” His father sensed it too, and one day took his son for a drive and told 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.”
“The day I moved to Nashville and every day since then has been the best day of my life,” Bryan says of finally making his long-delayed move in September 2001. “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.”
He quickly landed a publishing contract at top independent publisher Murrah Music. There, Bryan found his voice as a writer by sticking close to the life experiences he knows best, as evidenced on such album cuts as “Country Man” and his signature song, “We Rode In Trucks,” a favorite among his Georgia fans.
Soon, interest from Capitol Records Nashville turned into a recording contract. “It’s all your dreams and everything you every wanted coming together right there at that moment,” Bryan says of being offered his deal in 2004.
Capitol has had success in the past pairing new artists with promising but little known producers with whom the artist has a great songwriting rapport. This technique worked most notably for Dierks Bentley and producer Brett Beavers. So the label chose that risky route again when it allowed Bryan to make his debut album with his accomplished songwriter buddy, Jeff Stevens, behind the board. The pair had already co-written four of the album’s tracks, including “All My Friends Say.”
The label’s gamble paid off. The Bryan/Stevens pairing has resulted in a fresh and contemporary-sounding album that’s just country enough to represent Bryan’s rural Georgia upbringing, but rocking enough to reflect the years he spent honing his live chops at bars and fraternity houses in his home state, where he is already a bona fide star. I’ll Stay Me is scheduled for release in August.
After years spent building a following in Georgia, it’s not surprising that Bryan chose to return there to shoot the video for “All My Friends Say” at a Theta Chi fraternity house on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens. It was a comfortable environment for the entertainer and the perfect setting for the witty song’s equally amusing film incarnation. Noted video director Shaun Silva lensed the clip, which shows off Bryan’s significant skills as a live entertainer as part of the story line.
“I still get shocked all the time when I meet random people and they say ‘You’re Luke Bryan.’ That’s still pretty neat,” the singer says of his home state fan base. “Georgia’s what’s kept the bills paid forever.”
Looking back, Bryan knows he wasn’t ready for Nashville the first time he’d planned to live there. “If I had moved when I was 20, I may not have stayed,” he says. “I was such a home boy I think I would have come up here and just gotten a little freaked out.”
He also has the benefit of maturity and experience now. “When I was 19 or 20 if you had told me standing on the Batman building [the BellSouth tower in downtown Nashville] and playing my guitar would get me a record deal, I probably would have done it,” he says with a laugh.
More importantly, Bryan feels his late brother has had a hand in much of the success he’s now achieved. “I attribute a lot of things that have happened for me so easily to him looking down on me,” he says. “I don’t know how I can be so fortunate, so it’s got to be him working it all out for me.”
"I'll Stay Me" by Luke Bryan - release date: 08/14/07..