Luke Bryan Shares Details Behind Artifacts in New Exhibit

Luke sees his exhibit for the first time with his mother in the background and manager Keri Edwards behind. Photo: Jason Davis/Getty Images for CMHOF

Luke sees his exhibit for the first time with his mother in the background and manager Kerri Edwards behind. Photo: Jason Davis/Getty Images for CMHOF

Luke Bryan’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum summer exhibit, Luke Bryan: Dirt Road Diary presented by Citi, opens to the public today, May 22.

Bryan took time to answer questions about a handful of the most meaningful artifacts during a press preview event in Nashville earlier this week. Those included his first guitar, the first song he wrote, a piano from his room and a backpack he almost lost at school.

“For years, some of my first instruments were at home,” said Bryan. “We loved having them there, but this forced us to bring them to Nashville. Once they leave here, I’ll be able to take them to some of my guitar guys to get them tuned up for wherever their resting place may be.”

  • First Guitar –“I was traveling to visit family friends on a Greyhound from Tallahassee, Fl. to Jennings, Louisiana when I was 14-years-old. I had a Walkman with No Fences (Garth Brooks), Killin’ Time (Clint Black) and Too Cold At Home (Mark Chesnutt) and listened to those albums the whole way. During that trip, there was a kid who was probably 16-years-old playing guitar and I saw how the girls swooned. Then we went to Gatlinburg, Tenn. where there were people playing guitars on the street and over those few weeks I got really inspired. Back home, I knew there was a gentleman named Connel Anderson who had guitars. He brought an extra one over and I’m sure it took me three months to learn how to tune it. Now I think, how did this guitar that was once leaned up against my bed when I was around 14-years-old, make it to the Hall of Fame? Wow!”
  • First song – “We found the very first song I wrote and performed for my church called “The Day He Turned Me Around.” It was a Christian song we found in my piano bench. I remember being on stage putting it on the pulpit and being really nervous to sing it in front of my family in the audience. You don’t realize at the time what you’re laying the groundwork for. Since then, something has spilled on the lyrics and you can’t see half of them as the ink has faded over time. That was probably when I was around 15-years old and it’s neat to see that piece of paper again.”
  • Wurlitzer Spinet Piano – “It’s a family friend’s piano that I don’t know if we ever formally asked to bring up here, but it’s here! I took piano briefly in 3rd-4th grade and it didn’t really stick. But the piano lived in my room because there was limited space in our house. When I started playing guitar it made me get back into piano, but I’m still quite limited on it. I learned Ronnie Milsap chords but never learned how to make big runs or learn theory. I played it quite a bit though. My brother worked the night shift and I would pay piano while he was sleeping at night. He ran me off quite a bit! The piano wound up at my mothers house and I would play it from time to time when I’d go home.”
  • Backpack – “It looks like an old army pack that probably my dad had. It started as my brother’s backpack and had his name written really big on it. I left it somewhere in school in second or third grade and one of the teachers came on the bus saying we have ‘Chris Bryan’s backpack.’ I wasn’t paying attention and she turned to walk off the bus and then realized it was mine. I wrote my name on it to make sure that didn’t happen again.”
Luke Bryan's childhood piano. Photo: Jason Davis/Getty Images for CMHOF

Luke Bryan’s childhood piano. Photo: Jason Davis/Getty Images for CMHOF

“I was really pleased at the stuff my mother was able to find,” said Bryan. “I’m just so enamored by the city of Nashville and the music scene. Anytime I can be associated with the staples of Nashville: The Opry, The Hall of Fame, Music Row–I’m very honored.

“I remember taking my dad through [the Hall of Fame] one time watching a video of Garth when I first moved here. It’s pretty cool knowing that people will be moving to town, taking their families and showing them my exhibit.

“I’m a total geek. Today I was pulling off Wedgewood [Avenue] and saw the Hall of Fame’s billboard. I remember being here 10-years ago driving on the 440-loop seeing other artists up there. It’s surreal.”

Additional items in the summer exhibit include:

  • Little League baseball uniform and glove
  • Second grade denim jacket
  • A script from his high school production of Annie Get Your Gun, in which he starred
  • Handwritten lyrics to his 2014 chart-topping single, “I See You”
  • Stage props from his Spring Break concerts
  • Tour posters
  • Stage clothes worn by Bryan at concerts and awards shows
  • Music awards, including trophies for his ACM and CMA Entertainer of the Year wins
  • Bow and arrows used by Bryan on the Outdoor Channel reality series Buck Commander: Protected by Under Armour

Luke Bryan: Dirt Road Diary will run through November 8, 2015 at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame.

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Eric T. Parker oversees operations and contributes editorial for MusicRow's print magazine, MusicRow.com, the RowFax tip sheet and the MusicRow CountryBreakout chart. He also facilitates annual events for the enterprise, including MusicRow Awards, CountryBreakout Awards and the Rising Women on the Row. [email protected] | @EricTParker

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