Luke Bryan Finds Freedom in Being Himself in Country Music: ‘I Am What I Am’

Luke Bryan is, at least now, the same person on and off stage. The father of two has had a Top 5 hit with his debut single, “All My Friends Say” in 2007, kicking off a career that is still going strong 16 years later. It’s a success Bryan attributes to both tenacity and — finally — finally feeling comfortable in his own skin.

“For most of my career I went up there going, ‘I got to prove myself.’ So it’s really liberating and gratifying to just go, ‘I am what I am,’” Bryan tells People. “I earned it the old-fashioned way: working my butt off. A lot of people have propped me up and helped me along the way, and I hope they can enjoy the ride too.”

Bryan is fun and goofy and light-hearted on stage, a non-stop force of energy from opening song until the encore. When performing, he appears like there is nowhere else he would rather be, which Bryan says is completely accurate.

“It’s not an act,” he maintains. “I’m in the moment, I’m having fun, and I’m feeding off fans’ energy. I love to make people smile. That’s why I fell in love with music”

Bryan delayed his original plan to move to Nashville when he was 19, after his brother Chris unexpectedly died in a car accident. Bryan postponed his trip for several years until his father finally convinced him to make the move.

“I think at 20 I would’ve processed it all a lot differently, with a lot less maturity,” the 47-year-old says. “When I moved to Nashville when I was 25, I could read people better. I could navigate the shady crowd. It helped me a lot in those aspects.”

Being a more seasoned adult also allowed Bryan to make better decisions than he might have if he had followed through with his original plan.

“When I was younger, I wouldn’t have really known who I was as an artist. Back then I was just singing other people’s songs and trying to figure out what I want to be,” Bryan concedes. “Now I know the main thing is to do your best to tell your story in the most authentic and relatable way. I can’t go back and question any of the stars or fate at how it all shaped out. I look back, and I’m proud of my climb to get here.”

Bryan is currently enjoying a Top 15 hit with “But I Got A Beer In My Hand.” He just revealed that he will release another song, “Southern and Slow,” out on Friday. The song is likely from Bryan’s forthcoming, massive new album.

“We’ve got several things recorded. I’d say we got around ten songs recorded, probably going to record six, seven, eight more songs just to be able to put out a full-length LP,” Bryan tells Audacy‘s Katie & Company. “As I find the songs, as I write songs that I really love, we’ll go in the studio and record them and just keep adding layer upon layer to the album, and just try to put out hit songs and try to put out songs that I feel like will really speak to my fans.”

Bryan will continue his Country On Tour with a stop at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Saturday, August 12. His final dates for his Las Vegas residency, Luke Bryan: VEGAS, will take place in December and January. He will also embark on his Farm Tour in September. Find “But I Got A Beer In My Hand” and all of Bryan’s music and upcoming shows at