Luke Bryan unveiled his new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to reporters and special guests on Wednesday, taking in the lovingly-crafted display alongside his family for the first time.
“This exhibit is like a flash card of so many dreams and so many prayers that have come true, and you’re looking at a big ol’ blessed life,” said Bryan. “For fans who come to town and come through here, maybe they’ll learn a little something that I didn’t tell them about myself.”
Called Luke Bryan: Dirt Road Diary, the exhibit includes artifacts from throughout the Georgia native’s career and even some of his childhood possessions. Instruments, stage clothes and awards are prominently featured, along with Bryan’s little-league baseball uniform, his second-grade backpack and mementos from the band he played with in college.
He admitted that his wife, mother and father were much more involved in choosing the items than he was.
“What I love about it is that for years some of my first instruments were at home [in Georgia], and we loved having them there, but this really forced us to go down there and bring them to Nashville, like my very first guitar,” he said. “One thing that was amazing is we found the very first song I ever wrote and performed for my church, and I remember that day and singing that song.
“But it’s also a life piece,” the 38-year-old singer continued. “It’s named Dirt Road Diary because it tells the whole story of me and my youth, and that’s some of the stuff that I don’t know what’s in there. It will be fun to see some of those old pictures. . . and there’s no telling what I look like in them.”
Along with Bryan’s first guitar and song, the exhibit also features his first piano, items from his famous Spring Break shows in Panama City Beach, Florida, and even an assortment of his hunting and fishing gear, like his grandfather’s shotgun.
“It’s a huge deal,” Bryan marveled. “Obviously I’m very honored that the Hall of Fame asked me to be a part of this. I’m not necessarily a conventional country artist — I mean, I am, but sometimes I don’t get viewed that way — so I’m very flattered that the Hall of Fame chose to do this exhibit with me. It’s something that means the world to me.”
Hall of Fame director Kyle Young explained exactly why an artist like Bryan — one at the forefront of country’s new sound — would be included in the museum, even if it’s only on a temporary basis for now.
“One of the foundations of country music is singing and writing about what you know, and that’s what this boy from Leesburg, Georgia, does,” Young remarked. “But in this day and age, even those raised in the most rural parts of America are exposed to and love all kinds of music. Luke grew up loving Garth, Strait, and fellow Georgia homeboy Alan Jackson, but he also enjoyed rock, pop and hip-hop. What makes him a generational force is his ability to combine and transform this rich musical landscape and still have it come out as country music. That, by the way, is what pioneering country artists have done for decades.”
“The things that have happened to me in my career, you can lay in bed and night and wonder about ‘what if,’ but tangibly making it happen is another thing,” said Bryan. “The fact that I’m sitting here today with an exhibit in the Hall of Fame, with so many heroes and people who paved the way and built the dream that I got caught up in, it’s pretty amazing to be here. I’m not gonna take it for granted.”
The exhibit will be open to the public starting Friday, May 22nd, and is scheduled to run through November.