Peyton Manning And Luke Bryan Reveal What’s In Store For Their CMA Awards Co-Hosting Encore

“Having a year behind us, I feel like we’ve been a little more chilled out, pragmatic, calmed down…we’re just comfortable now,” Bryan shared.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

November 7, 2023


4:23 pm

Share on:

Peyton Manning, Luke Bryan; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

With one year as CMA co-hosts already under their belts, Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning are feeling fired up and ready to bring their hilarious antics back to Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena for the second year in a row. 

One day before gracing the stage together, the cohorts sat down during a press conference with Country Now and other media outlets to share an inside look into what to expect from their upcoming gig, performances they’re most excited to see, and more. 

Feeling More Confident Heading Into Their Second Year As Co-Hosts

“Having a year behind us, I feel like we’ve been a little more chilled out, pragmatic, calmed down…we’re just comfortable now. I know how he rolls. I guess we know a little bit better about our comedic timing and how that’s going to roll,” Bryan shared.

“Obviously I’m honored to be back. It was a lot of fun for me last year,” Manning added as he reflected on his time at last year’s star-studded event. “I’m kind of the outsider here. The music was so great and seeing all the winners last year, the looks on their faces. As Luke and I kind of discussed last year, this is a life-changing moment for so many of these artists and so I can appreciate that and I’m looking forward to seeing some of those other life-changing moments tomorrow night.”

Peyton Manning, Luke Bryan; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Peyton Manning, Luke Bryan; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Manning also admitted to having some nerves going into last year’s show as he was new to the stage and kept his focus on doing his part and allowing the artists to shine on their big night. However, coming into “Country Music’s Biggest Night” for his second year, the Pro Football Hall of Famer revealed that he has kicked his nerves to the curb and is going in feeling “more comfortable.”

“Like Luke said, I think we kind of have the routine. I watched bits and pieces of the show last year. Obviously seeing Zeb Ross and the look of disgust on Luke’s face as he had to endure ‘Rocky Top, that was probably one of the highlights for me last year,” Manning joked as he thought back to the moment viral TikTok clogger Zeb Ross appeared on stage and showed off his moves to the University of Tennessee’s anthem “Rocky Top.”

He continued, “Hopefully we have some other moments like that tomorrow night, but it really is just a really cool evening. My family’s coming back. I have friends coming back and I’m really pumped to be back.”

Peyton Manning Opens Up About His Connection To Country Music

Peyton Manning; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Peyton Manning; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Growing up in New Orleans, LA, Manning wasn’t always exposed to country music, that is until he made the move to Knoxville, TN, where he lived for four years as a student at the University of Tennessee. Eventually, he went on to become friends with several major country artists including Jordan Davis, Parker McCollum, and Kenny Chesney, whom he met on the sidelines of a football game.

“I got to be good friends and saw him perform several times, he performed at my wedding, which was a great honor,” Manning shared of his friendship with Chesney. “And that’s just been the coolest part for me is getting to know these artists as friends as well, not just as entertainers. And I’ve tried to continue to get to know ’em and spend some time with him, like Luke said, playing golf and I’ve appreciated their friendships…I love it. I love the stories. I love to hear where the artists have come from, whether it’s Albany, Georgia, or Gibbs High School outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. And I love to kind of know the hard work that these artists have put in to reach their dreams. It’s been a lot of fun for me, and I really do value these friendships that I’ve made.”

Which Female Country Star Does Manning Still Hope To Meet?

Out of all the country singer/songwriters he’s met over the years, he noted there’s still one female star he’s hoping to meet tomorrow night. 

“I enjoy getting to know new ones each year. I did not get to meet Lainey Wilson last year, if you’ll help introduce us,” he said looking to Bryan. “She’s a Louisiana native, which I feel like I always enjoy meeting Louisianans, and so I look forward to hopefully meeting her today or tomorrow as well.”

Bryan Reflects On His History With CMA Awards

Luke Bryan; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Luke Bryan; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

During the press conference, Luke Bryan also took a moment to look back on how far he’s come since the first time he attended the CMA Awards in the early stages of his career. 

“When I started having a seat on the front row and you’re up there with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill and Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman, and you’re sitting there and I just remember being like, what the hell’s going on? My first year at the CMA’s, I think I was sitting behind a television camera looking around some camera guy’s butt the whole day or whole night, but I was just glad to be in the room.”

Since then, he’s racked up two Entertainer of the Year Awards and 18 total nominations on top of leading the show as host for two consecutive years.

“I just always remember being humbled and honored to be in those positions, to have nominations or multiple nominations. And heck, I wake up year after year trying to write and continue to get nominations and move the needle in my career and try to be creative to continue. Even with last year with ‘Buy Dirt’ and Jordan [Davis] and I being a part of that, it was a big deal for me, I think big deal for him. These artists work hard and they get fired up when they get the nominations. And what’s cool is their teams do too. I mean, I remember my bus drivers and my truck drivers just, they’re out somewhere in Mount Juliet flipping burgers and cooking steaks watching their boss win and it’s all about them too. So that’s something that’s fun too, how it trickles to everybody.”

Bryan To Perform A Medley Of Hits

In addition to his hosting duties, the “Country On” singer will take the stage to deliver a medley of his biggest hits, including “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day,” “One Margarita,” “That’s My Kind Of Night,” “Play It Again” and “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)”

The star-studded lineup of performers for The 57th CMA Awards also includes Post Malone, HARDY, Morgan Wallen, Luke Bryan, Jelly Roll, K. Michelle, Little Big Town, Megan Moroney, Old Dominion, Carly Pearce, Chris Stapleton, Tanya Tucker, Lainey Wilson, Kelsea Ballerini, Kenny Chesney, Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, Jordan Davis, Alan Jackson, Cody Johnson, Mac McAnally, Ashley McBryde, The War And Treaty, Zac Brown Band and more.

With rehearsals already underway, Manning got the chance to sneak away from his hosting responsibilities and catch a glimpse of the on-stage performances that will come to life during the live show. 

CMA Awards 2023
CMA Awards 2023

“I actually just got to go watch a couple of the artists perform in these rehearsals I love today…I try to sneak out from the things Luke and I are supposed to be doing and go watch Chris Stapleton sing, but I think the Jimmy Buffett tribute tomorrow will be special. I remember the Loretta Lynn tribute last year that was outstanding and talked to my buddy Kenny [Chesney], who’s a very fitting person to have performed part of the Jimmy Buffett tribute. So I’m looking forward to seeing that for sure.”

Bryan then chimed in to say, “I’m always excited about the surprise moments. I mean, seeing Post Malone and Morgan and HARDY…for them to be on stage together, it’s fun stuff. It’s going to be great to see.”

Co-hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning, the 57th Annual CMA Awards will air live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 8 (8:00-11:00 PM/ET) on ABC. The show will also be available to watch the next day on Hulu.

Share on:

Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.