Music

Luke Combs on His ‘The Man I Am’ Country Music Hall of Fame Exhibit: 5 Essential Items

On Wednesday (July 10), Luke Combs celebrated the opening of his new Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibit, Luke Combs: The Man I Am.

The exhibit opens July 11 and runs through June 2025, and is included with museum admission. The exhibit chronicles North Carolina native Combs’s life and career, from growing up in a small-town community to his current status as a two-time Country Music Association entertainer of the year winner and one of country music’s foremost hitmakers.

The exhibit traces some of Combs’s earliest musical moments, such as seeing a Vince Gill concert with his mother and grandmother, his early musical performances in school choirs and musicals, and Combs’ decision to practice guitar while studying criminal justice at Appalachian State University. He began posting cover versions of country and R&B hits, as well as his original music, on platforms including YouTube and Vine.

Combs moved to Nashville in September 2014, at age 24. But he also steadily continued building his audience one concert at a time. He released a few independent EPs, with his song “Hurricane” swiftly connecting with fans.

In 2017, “Hurricane” became Combs’s first No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart and marked a gale-force signaling of a star on the rise–one with a formidable combination of top-shelf songcraft, a humble, hard-working, everyman persona and what would quickly become one of country music’s most distinctive voices.

Two years later, Combs became the first artist to top Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart with his first five singles — and went on to extend that lead to 13 consecutive chart-toppers (he has now seen 16 solo songs reach the pinnacle of the Country Airplay chart). In 2019, he also ascended to headlining arenas and amphitheaters, then rose to stadium headlining status. His sold-out 2023 world tour not only traversed North America, but displayed his music’s global-spanning reach, as he also headlined in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

He’s also earned three top 10 hits on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, including 2020’s “Forever After All” and 2022’s “The Kind of Love We Make.” Last year, he earned a No. 2 hit on the Hot 100 (and a five-week Country Airplay chart-topper) with a rendition of Tracy Chapman’s 1988 hit “Fast Car.” The two singer-songwriters would create one of the Grammys’ most talked-about moments of the decade when they joined forces to perform “Fast Car” together in February. The song also earned a Grammy nomination for best country solo performance, and was named single of the year at both the Academy of Country Music Awards and Country Music Association Awards.

Combs’s The Man I Am exhibit displays stage clothes, photographs, childhood memorabilia, manuscripts and set lists from his life and career, but also highlights a key relationship that has sparked and sustained the chart-topping albums, sold-out tours and surging global acclaim: his solid relationship with his fans.

“I’m so excited for the fans to finally see this exhibit,” Combs tells Billboard via email. “The Country Music Hall of Fame has put in a lot of time and effort, and I think it turned out really great. Still crazy to think my things and career need an exhibit, but the fans have made that happen, so this is for them and I hope they enjoy it.”

Below, Combs tells Billboard about five items that highlight his new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

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