NASHVILLE, Tennessee -- A country music superstar and a legendary NFL quarterback will co-host The CMA Awards live from Nashville on ABC on November 9.
Luke Bryan announced Monday he will be joined by his friend, Peyton Manning, for the 56th annual show. Bryan, who has twice been voted CMA's Entertainer of the Year, is promising his pal "the night of his life."
Bryan used his spot as a guest host on "Live with Kelly and Ryan" to make the announcement.
"I'm bringing in 'Omaha' himself, Mr. Peyton Manning, to co-host with me," the singer told Ryan Seacrest.
After the show, he explained to Eyewitness News why Manning is such a great choice for Country's Biggest Night. It turns out, "it's a perfect fit," because Manning has been a big country fan for so long.
"He's very, very engaged in country music from the earliest days, when you saw him going to a lot of Kenny Chesney shows, jumping up on stage and singing," Bryan said.
Manning said he was excited for the opportunity.
"I cannot wait to head to Nashville and take the CMA Awards stage alongside my friend Luke Bryan," Manning said. "I am such a huge fan of country music, so to have the chance to stand among so many incredibly talented artists is an absolute honor."
Bryan did so well hosting his first time last year that he's been hired again, and this Wednesday, he'll be seen on ABC as part of a special devoted to CMA Fan Fest.
People travel from all over the world to meet the stars at the event but it had to be canceled due to the pandemic. In June, the streets of Nashville were packed again for the event, because as Bryan said, "Everybody is more and more comfortable about being in crowds."
There has long been a bond between country stars and their fans that doesn't exist in other genres of music.
Bryan has been out on his "Raised Up Right Tour," and he says the enthusiasm of the fans is such that it feels like his first as a headliner.
"Country music fans are really, really in tune with what the artist is, and once they fall in love with that artist and what that artist believes and sings about, you have them forever," he said.
That bond was only made deeper during the time artists and fans had to spend apart.
"I did an ABC/CMA situation in an empty stadium, and it was pretty depressing, even though we got it done," Bryan said. "But to be able to come back with all the fans in the streets of Nashville and in the stadium is pretty special."
For those who couldn't be there, highlights air on Wednesday starting at 8 p.m. during an ABC primetime special hosted by Dierks Bentley and Elle King.