Florida Georgia Line Featured in New Country Music Hall of Fame Exhibit

Sunday, Feb. 6 marked the opening of “Florida Georgia Line: Mix It Up Strong,” a new exhibit from the Country Music Hall of Fame featuring personal artifacts honoring 10 years of pop-cross-country excellence for Tyler Hubbard, born in Georgia, and Bryan, born in Florida. Kelley, better known as multi-platinum country duo Florida Georgia Line.

The event was marked by a series of festivities held in the top-floor exhibition hall, as well as at the venue’s CMA Theatre: a 90-minute long interview session with the venue’s editor, Michael Gray . Attendees were treated to an intimate three-song performance featuring their 2017 Billboard Hot Country Songs No. a decade, “Cruise” (neither the song’s respective collaborators, Bebe Rexha or Nelly, were present).

“When we did the ‘Cruise’ remix with Nelly, it was a really big moment for us,” Bryan Kelley told The Tennessean. “The remix opened a lot of doors for us and broadened our minds as to what was possible in our careers. It’s so inspired from touring with the Backstreet Boys to collaborating with artists and songwriters in Los Angeles.”

During a conversation with Gray in a crowded CMA Theater, Hubbard and Kelley’s shared inspirations revealed the chemistry behind their most beloved tracks.

Hunter and Kelley pointed to an unexpected trio of bands as key influences: the New Orleans-based turn of 21st-century rap favorite Juvenile, quintessential bluesy Southern rockers from Florida Lynyrd Skynyrd, and iconic country trio Alabama.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – FEBRUARY 06: (L-R) Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line and Senior Executive Director of Writing and Interpretation at the Country Music Hall of Fame, Michael Gray speak onstage during an interview for Florida Georgia Line: Mix It Up Strong Exhibit Opening Day at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on February 06, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum)

“We are ready-made thinkers,” Hubbard added. He jokingly added another important element to their success is that as both are also artists with strong Christian values ​​who have been prayer and worship leaders for many years, “if you can lead a crowd to worship, you can lead a crowd to rejoice”. .”

Famously, the tandem met at Belmont University in Nashville, where Kelley arrived as a twice-transferred baseball pitcher and Hubbard as a student eager to be educated in the behind-the-scenes machinations of the industry. music. Years later, the duo have gone through more than three decades of belongings stored in storage units, boxes and suitcases. Everything from Brian Kelley’s high school ball cap for the Seabreeze Fighting Sandcrabs to Tyler Hubbard’s Selmer Bundy II saxophone that he played as a child before picking up the guitar is present.

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Also among the exhibits: a Takamine GB-7C Garth Brooks Signature electro-acoustic guitar that Brian Kelley played in his freshman year as a baseball pitcher at Florida State University.

These, and many other objects, will be on display until the end of the year.

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - FEBRUARY 06: Artifacts at the Florida Georgia Line: Mix It Up Strong Exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on February 06, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum)

The unique sound of Florida Georgia Line

The duo’s performance showed that their success stems from more than just being in the right place at the right time and replicating a formula in country music. Perhaps Florida Georgia Line is part of Generation X, which has consumed country, rap, cult music and rock in equal amounts. In turn, they deliver their own music without genre boundaries, creating a unique pop sound.

Ask Hubbard and Kelley about that sound, and their thoughts immediately turn to its producer/architect — and their studio collaborator to work on four albums between 2012 and 2019, Joey Moi.

“Working with Joey in the studio is basically ‘Joey Me Boot Camp,'” Hubbard said of working with the Canadian producer, recording engineer, mixer, songwriter and musician. Moi blended catchy tropes from the golden age of hair metal with Southern-style rap drum breaks and classic country guitar melodies to cultivate Florida Georgia Line’s hit style.

“It was brutal,” Hubbard said. “We would spend hours behind the mic singing our hearts out, and all Joey would tell us at the end of the session was ‘come back tomorrow and do it better’. I’m grateful for [Joey] Doing this. It was good for us, and when what we did matched what he was doing, it created a magical wave of popularity.”

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – FEBRUARY 06: (L-R) Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line admire Florida Georgia Line: Mix It Up Strong Exhibit Opening Day at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on February 06, 2022 in Nashville , Tennessee.  (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum)

Currently in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, a five-year-old cut-and-paste album of Florida Georgia Line items compiled by Tyler Hubbard’s grandmother sits 25 feet from the Martin D guitar. -28 by Hank Williams. . Anyone who questions country music’s ability to embrace the depth, breadth, and scope of the genre’s vast musical scope must realize that – “bro-country” is in comfortable harmony with and at glaring distance from ” Your Cheating Heart”.

Regarding their nearly two-decade legacy that landed them in the Hall of Fame, Kelley — after being told how close his Takamine GB-7C was to Hank’s Martin D-28 — smiled, then nodded. told the Tennessean, “You know, when I get [my] guitar in a year, it’ll sound even better because it’s been marinated with Hank’s!”

More seriously, Hubbard continued, “This honor is surreal. We moved here to be songwriters, then we became artists. When we started our careers as artists, BK and I fantasized about having our memories here.”

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