Why Luke Bryan's Journey From School Plays to Stadium Tours Is the "American Dream"

As part of E!’s Backstage Pass, Luke Bryan looked back on his career that began in drama class and continued all the way through his Proud to Be Right Here tour.

By Mike Vulpo Jul 28, 2021 1:00 PMTags

Congratulations! You just scored a backstage pass to the hottest tickets in town.

After COVID-19 put a pause on live entertainment, your favorite artists are ready to hit the road and entertain audiences safely with brand-new tours and experiences. And regardless of where you are, we're offering an all-access ticket to every must-see concert of the summer. Welcome to E!'s Backstage Pass.

Luke Bryan doesn't want this American dream to end.

This summer, the country singer is hitting the road once again as part of his Proud to Be Right Here tour. In true Luke fashion, the ACM Awards Entertainer of the Year will pack iconic venues including Los Angeles' Staples Center and Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.

But before he started selling out concerts year after year, the American Idol judge was just a boy in Leesburg, Georgia with a desire to perform. In a new docu-series titled Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary, fans are given a front-row seat into how a small-town kid ended up being one of the biggest country music singers in the world.

While he enjoyed "Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Every Day," the performer hoped for something more after having a positive experience in his high school drama program.

Musicians Performing Live on Stage

"I think like so many schools and teachers and principals, they leave lasting, lasting impressions on you," Luke exclusively shared with E! News ahead of his docu-series' release on IMDb TV. "Certainly, when you're a kid and your whole life is being molded and shaped in any given moment, some person will come along that will inspire you and the people that are in this docu-series are certainly there…Those people and those faces from the past have always been people that shaped me and put me on really great path."

Before he knew it, Luke was saying goodbye to school plays and hello to local venues. And after his brother Chris Bryan came home from a Garth Brooks concert with so many positive memories, Luke realized the possibilities in country music were bigger than he ever imagined.

John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT

"He was really moving the needle on how people do concerts, perform concerts, entertain and he changed the game," Luke explained. "He made it from being just a guy standing at a microphone to a guy running around big stadiums. He was such a big tipping and turning point in country music." 

In the years to come, Luke started landing record deals and opportunities to perform at bigger venues across the country. Along for the ride was extended family, who remain Luke's biggest cheerleaders today. 

"I think your peers and your family and your friends supporting you—those are the pieces of the puzzle that all fit right into place to help push you out of the nest and help you chase your dreams and do what you love," he shared. "All of the people in the docu-series really are there because they were very important parts in my journey to get to Nashville and follow my dreams."

Must-See Concerts and Music Tours in 2021

One special lady along for the ride is Luke's wife Caroline Boyer Bryan. In My Dirt Road Diary, the couple's love story is put on display as they navigate the unpredictable music industry.

Ultimately, the pair never lost their footing as Luke's career began to skyrocket. As she explained in the docu-series, "It's been awesome seeing him go from doing a couple of shows a week to all of a sudden, he's gone for 230 days out of the year easily. You just have to ride the ride and hang on."

To this day, Luke still fondly remembers when his sister Kelly Bryan bought 126 tickets for his first performance at the Grand Ole Opry in 2007. In recent years, it became normal for 51,000 people to pack NFL or MLB stadiums for Luke's shows.

But when performing his hits for thousands of people, two of Luke's favorite audience members include his sons Thomas, 13, and Tatum, 10. 

"When your boys can watch me do the things that I do, it inspires them to follow their dreams," Luke shared with E! News. "They're like, ‘That's my dad out there acting like a kid.' I want to encourage my children to never lose that boyhood, that fun. I want my boys to see, ‘My dad, he has a good time and when I'm his age, I want to have as much fun as him.'"

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Whether viewers watch Luke's journey to stardom on his docu-series or rock out to his No. 1 hits at their local venue, the country singer hopes to leave people feeling both entertained and inspired.

"I just want people to see my life and be inspired and I want to try to represent country music in a really, really great light," he shared in My Dirt Road Diary. "I lived it and breathed it and I gave it my all. I want to be known for if you come to one of my shows, I'm going to sound like the record that you've got in your car. I'm going to be better than the last time you saw me and I'm going to be having more fun than anybody else in the room."

And even if you're not a country music fan, Luke made a case that his story is so much more than that. As he explained, "This docu-series is certainly the American dream unfolding. It shows the ups and the downs and the challenges and I hope that people can watch the roller coaster of my life and they can go, ‘You know my life's been a roller coaster too. I've got to still keep fighting and working and digging.'"

All episodes of Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary are available to stream exclusively on IMDb TV, Amazon's premium free streaming service, starting August 6.