CMA Awards Hosts Luke Bryan & Peyton Manning Look Forward to “Life-Changing Moments”

For the 2023 CMA Awards hosts, Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning, the show is about celebrating the achievements of country music. The country superstar and NFL legend are reuniting for the second year in a row to co-host the show that’s billed as country music’s biggest night. At a press conference at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Tuesday (November 7), the pair said that they feel a new level of comfort with each other.

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“We’re just comfortable now,” Bryan tells American Songwriter and other media. “We know a little bit better about our comedic timing and how that’s gonna roll.”

“I’m honored to be back, it was a lot of fun for me last year,” Manning adds, describing himself as an “outsider” in the country realm. “Last year, I was nervous because I was new and wanted to do my part and stay out of the way and give these artists their platform. So certainly feel more comfortable this year. I think we have the routine.”

[RELATED: Luke Bryan Reflects on His History with the CMA Awards Ahead of Hosting the Event for the Third Consecutive Year]

The former Indianapolis Colts quarterback cited the Loretta Lynn tribute at the 2022 ceremony as “outstanding” and believes the tribute to the late Jimmy Buffett will be on par this year. The tribute will feature performances by Manning’s longtime friend Kenny Chesney, along with Alan JacksonZac Brown Band, and hit songwriter and member of Buffett’s band the Coral Reefer Band, Mac McAnally. “I think the Jimmy Buffett tribute tomorrow will be special,” Manning predicts, citing Chesney as a, “Very fitting person to have part of the Jimmy Buffett tribute.”

One of the trademarks of the CMA Awards is the humorous moments, with Manning noting how the “look of disgust” on Bryan’s face during the performance of “Rocky Top,” one of the Tennessee state songs, during their monologue was a “highlight” from last year’s show (Bryan is a native of Georgia, rival to Tennessee’s college football team). But when it comes to dialogue, the two try to turn the jokes on themselves as opposed to their peers in the audience.

“Luke and I both have thick skin and the more that the joke can be on us, we are for it. I think both of us believe in self-deprecating humor and don’t take ourselves too seriously. This is supposed to be a celebration and [we’re] not here to make anybody mad,” Manning remarks.”The music was so great and seeing all the winners last year, the looks on their faces. As Luke and I discussed last year, this is a life-changing moment for so many of these artists, so I appreciate that. I’m looking forward to seeing some of those other life-changing moments.”

The CMA Awards air live from Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday (November 8) at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

 Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

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