Luke Bryan & Peyton Manning at a press conference for the 2023 CMA Awards. Photo: Stephanie Amador / The Tennessean
Luke Bryan expressed that memorable on-stage surprises are some of his favorite CMA Awards highlights — and in the lead-up to the 2023 show, he may have given away a touch of extra excitement for a specific surprise.
CMA Awards co-hosts — for the second year in a row — Peyton Manning and Luke Bryan held a press conference Tuesday ahead of their hosting gig where they talked about everything from what they are looking forward to about hosting. The press conference was held at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee on November 7. Alongside the NFL legend, Bryan responded to a question about the moments he’s eagerly anticipating at this year’s event. Bryan specifically noted his anticipation of Morgan Wallen and Hardy’s performance alongside rapper Post Malone.
“For them to be together onstage is fun stuff,” Bryan said enthusiastically, but he followed that up by saying a little too much:
While the performance featuring Wallen, HARDY, and Malone has been previously revealed, the CMA Awards has described it as a medley of classic country hits — there has been no indication that the trio will pay tribute to Diffie, implying that the intention was to keep it a surprise for the night of the show.
Naturally, it’s fitting that the “Pickup Man” himself is set to receive a well-deserved tribute on the CMAs stage. As one of the most cherished 90s country artists, Diffie’s untimely passing due to COVID-19 complications in late March 2020 at the age of 61 was a significant loss to the music world.
While Diffie has been honored in the past on various award show platforms, this particular assembly of stars has never paid homage to him. This tribute holds a special place, especially for HARDY, given that one of the last songs featuring Diffie’s voice was “Redneck Tendencies,” a duet with Trace Adkins featured on HARDY’s Hixtape Vol. 1 in 2019.
Upon the realization that he had just disclosed information not yet made public, Bryan promptly regained his composure, throwing a bit of his characteristic humor and charm.
“Did I just spill the beans on that?” he said with a self-admonishing laugh, then turned to his co-host. “See how I work? See how that works, Peyton?”
That same humor will appear as Bryan and Manning join forces to host the show. Also revealed at the press conference, the dynamic duo confirmed their intentions to entertain the audience with some playful jabs and witty banter during the grand event.
“Luke and I both certainly have thick skin, and the more the joke can be on us, we are for it,” Manning explained. “We both believe in self-deprecating humor and as you can see right here in front of you, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. But this is supposed to be a celebration, and we’re not here to make anybody mad or disappoint anybody, so I feel like [Bryan] and I are getting the majority of the punch lines on us tomorrow night.”
Tune in tonight (Nov. 8) to watch the 2023 CMA Awards! The show will air live from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena on ABC.
We can’t wait to see what our two co-hosts have up their sleeve for this year’s CMA Awards. Check out their amusing opening monologue for last year’s show below!