Whether you know him from American Idol or as the mega country music superstar selling nearly thirteen million records; or his wife for her one million followers on Instagram with her “12 Days of Pranksmas” antics – Luke and Caroline Bryan are instantly recognizable. Lucky for them, they chose to make their home in Williamson County. Long known for being a safe haven for celebrities – the ability to come and go seemingly unnoticed (sometimes), and carve out a life of normalcy, is the elusive but often found draw of our community. But the Bryans are far from hiding out, as they have made a life and put down roots in this place they now call home.
“We don’t let who we are inhibit living,” says Luke, describing the sometimes endless barrage of press and publicity that surrounds him and his family. Clearly, making a choice to come to Nashville, as he says, “was the only way to make my dreams come true.” And come true they have, as his career has more than skyrocketed to a pinnacle of fame and success few performers achieve in a lifetime, let alone in a little over a decade.
Since his debut, Luke Bryan has garnered 27 #1 hits and has more RIAA certified digital singles than any other country artist with 68.5 million; has 15.6 billion streams worldwide and has sold nearly thirteen million albums. His headline concert tours have played sold-out shows for twelve million fans, including stadium concerts, Farm Tours, Spring Break shows, and seven sold-out ‘Crash My Playa’ destination concert events. Luke has won over fifty major music awards including five wins as Entertainer of the Year. His third and most recent Entertainer win was awarded by the Academy of Country Music this April, and he also holds two Entertainer honors by the Country Music Association. Additional awards include six recognitions as a CMT Artist of the Year, NSAI Artist/Songwriter of the Year, the first-ever recipient of the ACM Album of the Decade Award for Crash My Party, seven CMT Music Awards, five Billboard Music Awards, and four American Music Awards – as well as being named Billboard’s Top Country Artist of the 2010s, the ‘Most Heard Artist of the Decade’ by Country Aircheck, and the ‘Artist Humanitarian Recipient’ by the Country Radio Broadcasters this February. And if all of that wasn’t enough - Luke is also a celebrity judge, gearing up for a fifth season in 2022, alongside Katy Perry and Lionel Richie, on ABC’s American Idol.
Lucky for Luke, by his side through it all, has been his wife Caroline – college sweethearts from Georgia, the couple share two boys and are a loving Aunt and Uncle to two nieces and one nephew.
Raising children and looking for somewhere they could have plenty of space to be in the country and have the feel of city life nearby was the draw of Williamson County. In 2012, already residing in Brentwood, Luke told Caroline he had found their perfect place just down the road in Franklin. Her first question as “how close is the hospital?” Laughingly explaining, that as a mother, knowing how quickly you can reach help if there is an emergency or an accident was a top priority for her. Luckily for Caroline, he answered that Williamson Medical Center, an award-winning regional health system that provides high-quality and compassionate healthcare, was only a few miles away.
Not just as a reason to purchase their bucolic farm in the countryside of Williamson County, the hospital holds a special place in their hearts as well, as the place where their children were born. Although they hope not to have to visit often, their passion for this community and giving back draws them to not only the hospital’s many avenues for contributing but to so many other causes here and everywhere.
“We have truly been blessed by this area,” says Luke. “When your children give you the roots that establish a place as home, you want to give back,” he says; “In a quick amount of time, Williamson County has become our home.”
There are no shortages for how one can become involved in the philanthropic community that is very much a part of what and who Williamson County is. Celebrity or not, giving back and helping to create and preserve what is so very special about living here is part of this community’s soul.
“The beauty of this community is the people looking after it,” says Luke, so profoundly. He and Caroline are both keenly aware of the intrinsic responsibility that comes with giving back. No problem! Their commitment to doing good is both heartfelt and obviously a very real part of who they are as people. Some of the many organizations they have already been a part of here include Brightstone, High Hopes, the YWCA and their own family’s organization – the Brett Boyer Foundation, started by Caroline’s brother and sister-in-law (Ellen Boyer, featured in this issue as a Nonprofit Hero), in honor of their daughter Brett who died of congenital heart disease (CHD). Caroline is also the founder of Brett’s Barn, created to honor her late niece Brett, which has rescued over twenty farm animals.
Beyond the named charities they have given to, they also strongly believe in the little things sometimes mattering the most. “Nothing matters more than the small stuff we are asked to do,” says Luke. Examples of which include signing a guitar for a local auction or simply as a gift to a veteran or police officer; or showing support to a small child suffering from cancer.
They also have their own personal foundation, where they are able to help an individual or organization in need on a much more one-on-one level. “We receive letters and hear stories of someone deserving, and we can write a check,” says Caroline. And celebrity and financial success have nothing to do with the sincere belief; too much is given, much is expected. “If you can, and don’t,” says Caroline, “shame on you.”
Clearly, the Bryan family is a gift to Williamson County in more ways than one. Their commitment to preserving what is so special about this community survives long after fame subsides. Their example shows that no matter how small the gift or amount of time volunteering, how seemingly insignificant a cause may seem at first or to others, the servant’s heart for giving back can truly make a place where you live and become your home.
When the character of your community and the gift of everyone caring enough to preserve that something special is part of its resident’s daily life, it matters. “We want to do our part to protect Williamson County and what it is,” Luke says. Clearly reflected in who they are and ingrained in both Luke and Caroline in a multitude of ways, both around the country and right here in their backyard. Right here, in their chosen place to call home.