ABC RadioLuke Bryan kicked off the Grand Ole Opry Tuesday by flipping a gigantic light switch to turn its iconic barn backdrop pink for breast cancer awareness. Little did he know, the Opry would end the night with a big surprise for him.

Two songs into Luke’s closing set, the Academy of Country Music surprised him with its Album of the Decade Award for 2013’s Crash My Party.

Backstage earlier, he told reporters he couldn’t wait to be back at country’s most famous venue.

“It’s been way too long since I’ve been on the Opry stage…” Luke explains. “I’ll ask my manager… ‘We did the Opry like nine months ago?’ And she’s like, ‘No, it was like three-and-a-half years ago.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’ve gotta get to the Opry.’” 

Luke turned Tuesday night’s Opry Goes Pink show into a throwback to the first time he sat in the audience, back when he still lived in Georgia. 

“My first Opry show, Vince Gill stopped by unannounced and he just walked out and brought a guitar,” Luke recalls. “And I’ve wanted to do that for years.  I’ve just wanted to not have my band, just have guitar or piano.”

And that’s exactly what Luke did, performing “Most People Are Good” and “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Everyday” accompanied only by his guitar, before sitting down at the piano for “Do I.”

While none of Luke’s close family members have been affected by breast cancer, both awareness and the work of Susan G Komen are still causes close to his heart.

“The big thing that I always notice is the fans at my concerts that have… a pink sign,” he reflects. “‘LAST CHEMO TREATMENT TODAY. BEATING CANCER.’ And that always is something… I leave the show with.” 

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