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Luke Bryan celebrates big career year at CMA Awards

| Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

It hasn't been Luke Bryan's year alone in country music, but there's no question he's been enjoying a fabulous one.

Named entertainer of the year at last spring's Academy of Country Music Awards, the singer-songwriter is riding high on the success of his album and single both titled “Crash My Party,” and he's sold out concert venues across the country on dual tours.

Things may be about to get even better for Bryan, since he has three nominations — including entertainer and male vocalist of the year — in the Country Music Association's 47th Annual CMA Awards. Bryan will be among the performers as ABC televises the event from Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on Nov. 6 with Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood paired again as the event's hosts for the sixth consecutive time.

Having earned his first two CMA nominations last year, Bryan says he's “excited about” his trio of chances this time. In a rarity for any artist, he's scored a couple of clean sweeps: He took both of his categories in the 2010 ACM Awards, and he won all nine awards he was up for at the 2012 American Country Awards, many of those linked to his hit single “I Don't Want This Night to End.”

“It's pretty surreal,” Bryan muses, adding that at award shows, “I'm like a fan in the room, then I get onstage and do my thing. I just love the award show experience. It's always a fun night for country music to show what they've got, and I really just enjoy being in the moment and being a part of the shows.”

That's not always limited to being a nominee and/or performer. After teaming this past spring with friend Blake Shelton to host the ACM Awards, Bryan has signed up to do it with him again in 2014. “With every phase of this business, I give it all I've got,” maintains Bryan. “I exhaust every bit of brainpower on making each experience the best I can, and I just relish being in the game of country music.”

Sampling a crowd's reaction to his tunes — also including the country-chart-topping “That's My Kind of Night” from the platinum-selling “Crash My Party” — raises that “game” for married father of two Bryan, who's spent part of his year performing his Farm Tour to raise scholarship money for farm family members and part on his more general Dirt Road Diaries Tour.

Bryan says he feels gratified “anytime you put new music out and it's already resonating with people, and they're playing it in their cars and singing it back to you. It used to take a year or two for everybody to get an album like I wanted them to and learn all the songs, but now people go right out and buy it and come to the shows ready.”

Though he still feels the thrill of having been named entertainer of the year once in 2013, Bryan notes, “All year has been amazing for me. I've been able to stand on stages and thank my audience for naming me that. That's a fan-voted award, and that's what makes the title so special to me. It set the tone for the whole year for me, and it's never let me down.”

Bryan's third current CMA bid is for musical event of the year, for his collaboration with Jason Aldean and Eric Church on “The Only Way I Know.” Bryan calls them “two dear friends of mine, and Jason organized that whole thing. It just shows you how smart he is; he put all the parts together. We'll be linked to that song forever, and that's awesome company for me to be in.”

Also up for CMA entertainer of the year are Aldean, Shelton, George Strait and Taylor Swift. “I think this business is all about finding your niche, finding your style that sets you apart,” Bryan says. “If there are 20 or even 100 different artists out there who are able to do their own thing and reach their fans, it makes country music even better.

“The thing you never want to do is have everybody stepping on each other with the same sound. I'm certainly honored to be nominated in these categories, and it's something I never take lightly. I truly always appreciate it.”

Bryan will be involved with the Country Music Association again soon, as one of the artists on the annual “CMA Country Christmas” special that ABC will air Dec. 2. And more honors may come his way shortly: He's nominated for favorite male country artist, and “Crash My Party” is up for favorite country album in the 2013 American Music Awards, which ABC also will present Nov. 24.

“I've honestly been real blessed in just being fortunate in this business,” Bryan reflects. “We know these are the days where we're going to look back and know we were blessed.”

Jay Bobbin is a staff writer for Zap2it.

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