Luke Combs Is Already Using His CMA Entertainer Win for Good

If you’re a Luke Combs fan, you’re still living off the high of him winning Entertainer of the Year at the 2021 CMA Awards Wednesday night (11-10). Congratulations to you, and to Luke. If you’re an independent country music fan, or perhaps a country music traditionalist, you were probably nonplussed by the win, aside from maybe being somewhat kind of happy that it wasn’t Keith Urban, or Luke Bryan, or someone of that ilk waking away with the award.

But even as someone who may not like the music of Luke Combs specifically—and hey, he has his moments, but his gift is making music that sits down right in the middle and is mildly appealing to everyone, and we all recognize that—you should be happy that this is the man who has been chosen to be the de facto leader of country music for the next year, if not for longer since he may not lose this distinction for years to come.

Similar to Eric Church, who Luke Combs inherits the CMA Entertainer of the Year crown from, Luke has been a staunch supporter of country music’s independent artists from the outset, and in very substantial ways, and frankly, in ways that artists like Alan Jackson and George Strait never really were during their Entertainer of the Year runs.

There are almost too many examples to list of the Luke Combs altruism towards non mainstream artists. There was the Luke Combs collaboration with Billy Strings. There was Luke Combs cutting the song “Six Feet Apart” co-written with Brent Cobb and Rob Snyder that became one of the signature moments for country music early in the pandemic. There was the shout out Combs gave to the Texas music supergroup The Wilder Blue (formerly Hill Country) that Luke Combs discovered right here on Saving Country Music.

That’s right, the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year comes to Saving Country Music sniffing around for new talent, and new music to listen to. Or at least he did on one occasion. If nothing else, this should underscore that Luke Combs is not cut from the same cloth as most major label country music performers.

This spring when I attended the Key West Songwriters Festival, which showcases some of the most behind-the-scenes and unheralded composers in the business, I remarked, “Landing cuts with Luke Combs was sort of a theme over the week when you sought out some of the best songwriters showcasing on the island, which speaks to the depth and importance of Combs as arguably the biggest performer in all of country music at the moment.”

Rob Snyder, Channing Wilson, Erik Dylan, and many others are some of Music City’s best tunesmiths who never receive the credit they’re due. But they’ve all landed cuts with Luke Combs that’s helped support their careers so they can continue writing, and continue contributing great songs to the country music canon.

“Sure Trig, but I just wish his music was better.” Well, I probably do too. But Luke Combs has his moments. Go listen to “Even Though I’m Leaving,” which was a #1 on country radio and tell me that it’s not good, and not country.

And what does Luke Combs do less than 48 hours after he walked away with the 2021 CMA Entertainer of the Year trophy? He announces a run of stadium shows with Morgan Wade, Zach Bryan, and Cody Johnson as the opening acts. Granted, it’s only three shows at the moment. But don’t be surprised if many more are on the way, either with this slate of openers, or others that are just as intriguing.

Because Luke Combs is a stadium act ladies and gentlemen. He is a stadium act who is not tapping Walker Hayes, or Niko Moon, or whomever else is the hot name right now on Music Row to open shows for him. He’s tapping Zach Bryan, he’s writing songs with Brent Cobb and Channing Wilson, and he’s reading Saving Country Music. Understand the deeper implications here.

And no, Luke Combs didn’t just put Zach, Morgan, and Cody Johnson on a poster. He put out a whole promotional video (see below) featuring these artists as part of the announcement, and splattered it all over social media. Even if people don’t attend these events, the damage is already done. Millions of folks were just exposed to these artists that otherwise they may have never heard of.

But that’s changing too. What makes these picks so great is the point all three of these artists are at in their careers. Right now, nobody is more on fire than Zach Bryan. Just ask anyone who has gone to one of his shows lately. It’s a phenomenon. Morgan Wade? Believe it or not, but her song “Wilder Days” is breaking out on mainstream country radio, and could very well become a hit in the coming months. Meanwhile millions of people just watched Luke Combs singing “Wilder Days” to open the stadium show announcement.

And sure, if you’re a Morgan Wade fan, are you really going to spend good money to sit in the nosebleeds of a stadium to watch her play for 25 minutes as everyone else files in? Of course not. But that’s not the point. For Luke Combs fans (at least the ones who arrive early), it will be. But for Morgan Wade, this already means a legitimate avenue towards more fans just from the announcement of these shows. It also means a payday.

That’s because Luke Combs went the extra mile with this. He didn’t just throw a poster out there. He used this opportunity to expose millions to the music of these important artists, whether they attend one of these stadium shows, or not.

That is leadership. That is going above and beyond. That is what you want from your reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year. And that’s what we’re getting from Luke Combs already.

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