Country Music Hall of Fame to Open Luke Combs Exhibit

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photo from Country Music Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum will explore the life and career of Luke Combs in a new exhibition, Luke Combs: The Man I Am. The exhibit will trace Combs’ story from singing with his school choirs in North Carolina to headlining stadiums around the world. The exhibit, which will be open from July 11 until June 2025, is included with museum admission.

“Few artists have experienced the kind of meteoric rise and sustained success Luke Combs has since signing his first recording contract just two years after moving to Nashville,” said Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “He has earned a career-defining string of #1 singles, set new benchmarks on the music charts, won more than a dozen major country music industry awards since 2016 and sold out stadiums around the world.”

“Once I decided I wanted to do music as a career, it didn’t matter if it was for 100 people or 1,000 people, I just wanted to be playing Country Music for anyone who would listen,” said Luke Combs. “If I could have enough fans to call it a job, I was set. Other than that, I never dreamed of being featured in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, much less having my own exhibit; that was beyond my wildest dreams. But honestly, it’s all a credit to my fans, family, songwriters and team. I have only made it to where I am today because of them, and this honor is one of my most humbling yet. At my core I love Country Music and this exhibit is as prestigious of an honor as it gets.”

The exhibit will include stage wear, tour memorabilia, manuscripts, set lists, instruments, photographs, posters, childhood memorabilia and more. Examples of items to be displayed include:

  • Martin GPCPA4 Sapele acoustic guitar Combs used extensively at his early performances, 2012–2014. When he moved to Nashville, Combs gave the instrument to his friend and fellow performer Adam Church.
  • Playbill from Combs’ leading role as Nathan Detroit in the musical “Guys and Dolls” during his senior year at A. C. Reynolds High School, Asheville, North Carolina.
    CD-R of the three songs recorded for Combs’s debut EP, The Way She Rides, signed by Combs and Adam Church and given to Church’s parents. Combs wrote on the paper sleeve, “To the Church’s / Y’all rock SO hard!”
  • Columbia PFG shirt and Swamp Assassin ball cap Combs wore in the 2016 music video for “Hurricane.”
  • Manuscript of “Six Feet Apart,” co-written by Combs, Brent Cobb and Rob Snyder on April 14, 2020.
  • Dale Earnhardt commemorative leather jacket Combs wore in honor of the famed stock car racer and team owner when he performed at Daytona International Speedway prior to the start of the NASCAR Daytona 500, Feb. 14, 2021. Earnhardt was killed on the final lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001.
  • Jersey that Combs wore when he was a member of the Rockets football team at A. C. Reynolds High School.
  • Dollar bill Combs kept as a memento from his first paying gig at Boone’s Parthenon Café, where the cover charge was $1.
  • Crosley Dansette portable record player Combs used to share his recording of “Beautiful Crazy” with Nicole Hocking, now his wife, for the first time.

In support of the exhibition, Combs will participate in a songwriter round in the museum’s CMA Theater on Thursday, July 11, at 2:30 p.m. During the program, Combs will be joined by four of his songwriting collaborators — Ray Fulcher, James McNair, Drew Parker and Rob Williford — to share the stories behind and perform some of the songs they have written together. Tickets will be available here on Friday, May 17 at 10 a.m. Central.

Growing up in North Carolina, Combs enjoyed singing from a young age. His parents encouraged his innate talent by taking him to concerts — his first was a Vince Gill show with his mom and grandmother — and buying him a guitar, which he stopped playing after only a few lessons, when he was in middle school. Combs joined several school choirs and was cast in four school musicals while growing up. While attending Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, he studied criminal justice, played rugby and sang in an a cappella group.

During the summer after his junior year, when he was feeling frustrated and uncertain of his future, Combs’ mother reminded him of the guitar in his closet and told him Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw learned to play when they were his age. So, Combs spent his free time teaching himself to play the instrument.

Back in Boone for his senior year, Combs began performing around town and building an online following with clips of himself singing country and R&B covers — including Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” — and original songs that he posted on YouTube and Vine, a short-lived platform for six-second videos.

Combs visited Nashville in January 2014 to record his debut EP, The Way She Rides, and permanently moved to the area that September, at age 24. He signed with a booking agent within a year and filled small rooms throughout the Southeast with fans who had discovered him online. After independently releasing three EPs, and with buzz building around him in part due to his song “Hurricane,” Combs signed a record deal with River House Artists and Sony Music Nashville in October 2016, two years after moving to Nashville.

“Hurricane” earned Combs his first country radio #1 in May 2017. His debut album from the same year, This One’s for You, which included “Hurricane,” spent 50 weeks atop the country albums chart, tying Shania Twain’s record for most weeks at #1. In 2019, Combs became the first artist to top the Billboard Country Airplay chart with his first five singles — and then extended the record to 13 consecutive #1 songs. Through April 2024, he has amassed a total of 16 solo Billboard Country Airplay chart-toppers.

After playing small shows in bars, clubs and theaters for several years, Combs began headlining shows in front of thousands in arenas and amphitheaters in 2019. His sold-out 2023 world tour took him to stadiums throughout North America and arenas in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Combs keeps a close circle of songwriting collaborators. Like him, many were unproven talents when they first crossed paths in Nashville. When his first four singles topped the country radio chart in 2017 and 2018, the songs’ nine co-writers all earned their first #1 hits. Among those songwriters was Ray Fulcher, who has written more than two dozen of Combs’s songs, including six #1s. Dan Isbell, James McNair, Randy Montana, Jonathan Singleton and Rob Williford are also mainstays in the writing group.

Combs has also written with other artists, including a duet with Miranda Lambert, “Outrunnin’ Your Memory,” and a collaboration with Billy Strings, “The Great Divide,” that they wrote with Wyatt Durrette. Songs written by Combs have been recorded by Gabby Barrett (“Dance Like No One’s Watching”), Zac Brown Band (“Out in the Middle”) and Carly Pearce and Lee Brice, whose duet “I Hope You’re Happy Now” is Combs’ first chart-topper as a songwriter only.

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