Former farm boy Luke Bryan kicks off his Farm Tour later this month in Jacksonville, FL, but this time it’s about more than just promoting his second album, Doin’ My Thing – it’s also about giving back.
Country Music Pride: Your Farm Tour charity campaign to give back to organizations in farming communities throughout the US is a fantastic endeavor, and I think with the economic climate being the way it is currently people can really get behind it: they’ll like knowing they are spending their own hard-earned money on not only great entertainment but on giving back. What made you decide to take on this charity campaign?
Luke Bryan: I grew up in the agricultural industry (in Leesburg, GA). My father was a farmer – he owned a fertilizer and chemical company, but he also farmed peanuts, soybeans, and cotton. I want to bring awareness to the family farmers, the farming communities that are in need, and donate some money back to them.
Luke is also a part of Country Faces Cancer, a national effort that supports The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk. This is an industry–wide effort led by Great American Country’s Nan Kelley, a proud lymphoma survivor. Nan is now cancer free, and has become a tireless advocate for blood cancer research and services.
CMP: Along those same lines, you are working to raise money for the Light the Night walk for cancer. Any specific reason you chose that charity to help out?
LB: Obviously cancer affects nearly everyone these days, somehow. Nan Kelley, who has been such an inspiration, has really led the fight. My wife wanted to be involved, and we wanted to do whatever we could to help out and support awareness and getting money for research for a cure.
CMP: As a successful entertainer on the rise, what other entertainers/musicians who do a lot of charity work do you look up to, and why? Have you had any memorable charity experiences with other entertainers, and what were they?
LB: Randy Owen has spent a huge, huge, part of his life with St. Jude (Children’s Hospital), and he’s one of my best examples. Dierks Bentley signed on with the Charity Trail Ride, and there are so many others who are helping out. It’s amazing how the country community gives to charity – it’s very inspiring watching my friends and people in the business not thinking so much about themselves and really giving back.
My most memorable was the first time I went to St. Jude’s (hospital in Memphis, TN, in 2005). I met those kids, and they were so brave, and I saw how great that hospital was… I just wanted to do something after that.
The video for Luke’s first single off the new album, “Do I,” spent several weeks in September in the number one spot on Great American Country (GAC)’s Top 20 Countdown, and he stayed there because his fan base voted to keep him there. Luke said having a number one video was a “first” for him and an amazing experience.
LB: It was something fun to see the video go number one for multiple weeks. I’m so grateful that my fans voted for it – they are 100 percent the reason why it went to number one. I have the best fans, some of the most loyal ones, definitely.
Luke’s fan base in his home state of Georgia is what he has said have kept him going for many years: he even returned to a frat house on the campus of the University of Georgia in Athens to film another video, “All My Friends Say,” which was a hit on Luke’s debut album, I’ll Stay Me.
CMP: You are quoted on your website as saying that your first album had a lot of hits but that it is “beatable.” What about the new album is a step beyond the first, and how did you get to that place?
LB: Everything across the board is beyond the first, which is part of the process. I learned a lot on the first album, and I applied that to this one (Doin’ My Thing). I recorded better songs, my voice was stronger and better – from A to Z, I think, this one is better. But again, that’s part of it, part of growing and learning and getting better, which as an artist is what you want.
CMP: You’ve written with the boys from Lady Antebellum – how was that experience and how did their input flavor the album? What other singers/songwriters would you like to write with, and why?
LB: “Do I” was a fun experience, writing with Lady Antebellum. I think the world of them and was glad to have them be a part of the album. I’d like to write with Randy Houser again. I’m writing some with Eric Church now. Really it’s about whatever hits at the right time.
CMP: Finally, talk a little bit about touring – what are the pros and cons for you, and how would you like that to change for you in the future? Any favorite cities, experiences?
LB: There are no cons really, but being away from my family is always tough. They try to come out every month, month and a half, so I look forward to them joining me on the road. The fans in each town are different, and I take them one by one. It’s all about getting out there, planting the seeds, getting with my fans – and then what I put out there for them comes back ten-fold.
I’d like to grow to be a headliner in a big stadium, play at big venues, be one of the big touring acts – but it’s about starting small, building a fan base, and working hard. We all grow with it and hope it will happen for us one day.
It’s always fun to see what the next town has to offer – so, no favorite cities or towns. The next town is always my favorite. You never know what’s going to pop up.
For more information on Luke Bryan visit www.lukebryan.com.