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Luke Bryan reflects on CMA Awards milestones that “put a peace in my heart”

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ABC/Brian Bowen

Luke Bryan feels a deep sense of responsibility and pride in hosting the CMA Awards for the first time, viewing himself as a stalwart of country music.

“To be a representative of the music that I love, to be someone to carry on a tradition and to be the the host and to conduct this show with elegance, class, humor, reverence,” he remarks of his approach to the gig. “To really make the show an example of country music and to represent the show to the best of my ability to the people watching at home is a big task and it’s something that I’m so honored to have the chance to do.”

Reflecting on some of his CMA highlights, Luke points to his rowdy performance of his hit “Country Girl, Shake It for Me” at the 2011 CMA Awards and taking home the night’s biggest honor, Entertainer of the Year, at the 2014 and 2015 ceremonies as personal milestones that validated all of his hard work over the years.  

“When I look back on my experiences, when I did ‘Country Girl, Shake It for Me’ for the first time on the CMAs, I was about to literally have a full-on panic attack. I was so nervous about it,” he recalls. “Winning the Entertainer of the Year was the highlight of my musical achievements. To have won that really put a peace in my heart for everything, why I moved to Nashville, why I moved away from my family, why I gambled on so much. To win that award put my mind and my heart at peace.” 

Luke hosts and performs at the CMA Awards live in Nashville on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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