Luke Combs’ CMA Entertainer of the Year Win Doesn’t Feel Real to Him: ‘Lifetime Dream Achieved’
People often ask Luke Combs what he'd be doing for a living if he'd never made it in music, and the singer often jokingly replies that he'd probably be homeless. Backstage at the 2021 CMA Awards, after accepting his trophy for Entertainer of the Year, Combs admitted that there's more than a little truth behind that joke.
"There was never a Plan B," he explains.
That's the premise behind "Doin' This," a new song that Combs debuted on the CMAs stage before his big win. The lyrics of that song pose the question of what Combs might be doing if he weren't a country star, and he always comes back to the same answer: He'd be a singer no matter what, even if that meant playing in tiny bars to tiny crowds and never "making it" in the business.
"Me and the guys I was nominated for Song of the Year with tonight [Rob Williford and Drew Parker, for 'Forever After All'] wrote that song with me as well," Combs recounts. "We were sitting in the man cave at my house, probably three-quarters of the way through 2020, and we couldn't figure out what to write about. Didn't have a title or idea."
It was while they were on his back porch talking, the singer continues, when they finally landed on the question of what Combs might be doing, if not music — and the idea that there's no way he'd ever be doing anything else.
"Once I decided this was what I was gonna do, it's what I was gonna do, whether it was at this level or the level where I started," he explains backstage, looking down at the trophy in his arms. "I would be chasing this if I wasn't holding it in my hand right now."
"And I'll always be doing it. Music is the thing that — everybody that does what I do, makes their blood pump, makes them get out of bed in the morning," the star adds.
Even so, he wasn't prepared to win the CMA Awards' biggest honor of the night. "I haven't processed it at all, to be completely honest with you," Combs admits.
"Obviously, I'm really excited. Overjoyed. Like, lifetime dream achieved," he says. "I'm just trying to figure out what to feel. It doesn't seem real."
The Country Music Association held the 2021 CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville. The show, hosted for the first time by Luke Bryan, returned to the venue — its home since 2006 — after one year at Music City Center due to the COVID-19 pandemic.