Luke Bryan grew up in the very small town of Leesburg, Ga. Back home, he helped his father with his peanut and fertilizer businesses while playing sports and enjoying the great outdoors. Yet he can remember his mother urging him to belt out George
Strait songs over and over while she drove him into town to shop. By age 14, his parents bought him an Alvarez guitar. By 15, his father would take him down to a nearby club, Skinner's, where he shared guitar licks and lead vocals with other local country singers.
At age 16, two local songwriters who'd enjoyed some success providing tunes for Nashville artists invited him to join their twice-a-week writing sessions at a local church. By that time, Bryan led his own band, playing at Skinner's and various community events.
Encouraged by everyone who heard him play, Bryan planned to move to Nashville after high school graduation. Supported by his family, he was loading his car for the move when tragedy struck. His older brother Chris, Bryan's biggest supporter and one of his best friends, was killed in an auto accident the day Bryan was to leave town.
He continued to devote himself to music, finding escape and emotional release in its songs. He poured his feelings into his songwriting, and after enrolling in Georgia Southern University, Bryan and his band would perform nearly every weekend on campus or at nearby clubs or parties. He eventually recorded an album of 10 songs, nine of which he'd written.
Despite everyone's encouragement, he stubbornly refused to reconsider moving to Tennessee. After graduation, he went to work for his father's agriculture business. Bryan loved the work, but a year into it, his father forced him to quit the job and move to Nashville. He arrived in Music City on Sept. 1, 2001.
Within two months, he'd signed a publishing deal with a company owned by songwriter Roger Murrah. Bryan spent time honing his material, building up a catalog of songs. Capitol Records will release his debut album in 2006.