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You can’t help but smile as you see the light in Luke Bryan’s eyes when he talks about one of his heroes, Alan Jackson.

Luke recently spoke to the Grand Ole Opry about the influence of Alan on his own career, and as old Opry video footage of Alan played, Luke just couldn’t quit grinning.

It’s as if he’d traveled back in time to being a young kid in Leesburg, Georgia, idolizing the country singer from Newnan, in the Northern part of the same state.

For Luke, Alan was always a favorite because he stayed true to himself and to country music.

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“There’s so many levels of Alan Jackson’s persona and what he’s done through the years,” Luke told the Opry. “When he wins the awards—he was so humble. I remember gravitating to that as a kid, because he was genuinely country.”

And who could forget the big defining moment in Alan’s career that also became a defining moment in country music: the release of a little song called “Chattahoochee.”

“I mean ‘Chattahoochee,’ I don’t know if there will ever be a bigger uptempo song in the history of country music,” Luke said. “To write such a defining uptempo that it’s timeless—it changed my life.”

Through all the hits and fame, Alan has never changed for anyone or anything, and according to Luke, the recently inducted Country Music Hall of Famer will shine forever as one of the best and the brightest.

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Luke says he can definitely still learn a thing or two from A.J.

“I probably could be a little more subtle and quiet like Alan from time to time,” Luke laughed.

Well, Luke, we like you just the way you are. Chances are Alan does, too.

Meanwhile, Luke has a whopping three nominations in the Rare Country Awards — Male Artist, Tour and Fan Moment of the Year, and the winners are up to you, the fans. Head on over to RareCountryAwards.com from now through Dec. 13 to cast your votes. Winners will be revealed during a concert and awards show streaming live from Nashville on the night of Dec. 14.

Samantha Stephens absolutely lives for music. When she's not making it, she's talking or writing about it. She's worked in all arenas of the country music world for nearly a decade, from syndicated radio and television to print journalism. She's even been known to crash a red carpet or two, true story.
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