“They’re trying to Hollywood me up a little bit. And some of those aspects are pretty interesting to learn about, where some of the great restaurants are in Hollywood,” Bryan tells Yahoo Entertainment during an interview aboard his tour bus, outfitted with a dark leather and wood-paneled interior, parked in New York City this week. “But the bottom line is, yeah, I’m trying to be myself.”
The country singer-songwriter, who calls Nashville home, made his debut as a judge on the singing competition show for its revival in 2017. Now, at the start of his third season alongside Perry and Richie, he is still taking his role on the show very seriously.
“Being the representative of country music is something that I don’t take lightly,” Bryan explains. “It’s up to me to represent country music to the best of my ability. To represent it with pride and dignity. It’s amazing when you look historically, through the years, how well country music artists that audition for Idol have gone on to win, or gone on to place very, very high. And Idol is a very, very good starting ground for country singers.”
One of those singers is Gabby Barrett, who placed third on the show’s 16th season. “I believed in Gabby from the day one,” Bryan says. “We’re really looking after these kids, and when I get a country kid in there, I like to try to just nourish them and give them what they need to hopefully do well in the competition.”
Although country music was represented in prior seasons of American Idol by musician and former judge Keith Urban, Bryan emphasizes his ability to uniquely speak to the American viewer as a result of where he’s from. “Going out to L.A. as much as I am, I have to really dig in on my Nashville roots and my Georgia roots. I think people in Hollywood and big areas like that, when they meet someone like me, I’m kind of like an encyclopedia to the country for them,” he says. “I think me speaking to the viewer at home in my country, hopefully I’m saying what they’re thinking.”
Now he’s trying to put that same home-grown authenticity into a new venture, with Constellation brands, through a beer collaboration called Two Lane.
“We wanted something that really embodies kind of where I’m from and what I’m about. Two-lane roads put a little image in your head of the South, and rural areas, and that’s certainly where I come from,” Bryan explains, adding that, despite his having to fend off Perry’s attempts to glitz him up, he will probably send her and fiancé Orlando Bloom a special wedding gift. “I’ll send them a case of Two Lane,” he says, jokingly adding, “and that’ll help Orlando cope.”
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