When country star Luke Bryan was offered a seat at the judges’ table on “American Idol” in 2018, his wife of 16 years, Caroline Boyer Bryan, was not a fan of the idea. On June 11, 2023, she and her mother-in-law, LeClaire Bryan, sat down for an interview in front of a live audience for the “Got It From My Momma” podcast, during which they talked about what it’s been like to be the support system for Bryan during his red-hot career.
LeClaire said one of the biggest perks of being the country star’s mom is getting to travel to exotic locations, including going to Hawaii with “American Idol.” But one of the downsides, the duo said, was the stress of deciding whether he should join the show back in 2018, with Caroline saying she was “scared” of the idea. Here’s what you need to know:
Luke Bryan’s Mom Recalls His Wife Worrying About ‘Idol’
Bryan joined the cast of “American Idol” in 2018, when ABC rebooted the show a year after FOX cancelled the long-running series. Though Ryan Seacrest continued as host, ABC hired a new panel of judges with Bryan, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry, who have stuck together for six seasons. Though there’s been no official announcement as to whether they’re all returning for season 22, all three have said in interviews that it’s likely.
“I don’t see the reason why I wouldn’t come back with my fellow judges,” Bryan told Access Hollywood in May. “We have a great time doing this and it feels good.”
When podcast host Jennifer Vickery Smith asked LeClaire and Caroline what they thought when Bryan was first offered the role on “American Idol,” his mom said it did not sit well with his wife. She recalled a discussion about it while visiting their beach house in Florida.
“I was at Luke and Caroline’s at the beach and I was sitting down in my little camper,” LeClaire explained. “They bought me a little camper and that was my private bedroom. And Caroline was down there and she said, ‘Mama, I just don’t know about Luke doing this ‘American Idol’ stuff. What do you think?'”
She continued, “I said, ‘Luke is doing this because he’s always wanting to make things better for y’all. It’s not about Luke.’ It was about the family and doing stuff to make it better for them.”
Though it’s not known how much the judges currently make per season, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2018 that Bryan would earn $12 million for the first season he served as a judge.
“And everybody loves it,” his mom told Smith on the podcast. “I know it’s hard on Caroline not having (him around), but it’s been hard on Caroline since she married Luke! I mean, Luke’s gone. She’s there with the children and she’s been amazing.”
On the same day his mom and wife were appearing on the podcast, Bryan told “Entertainment Tonight” that he’s well aware how much his job has kept him away from his family, including his 12- and 15-year-old sons, especially this year.
“I’m not really balancing it that well this year,” he said, adding that he’d admitted as much to Caroline. “I’m like, ‘Baby, this is a rough year, let’s just get through it and then we’ll find a boat and go to the Caribbean or something.'”
The Bryans live on a 150-acre farm outside of Nashville, according to Velvet Ropes. But Bryan hasn’t been there a lot this year, between filming “Idol” and being on tour, with many more concert dates to come this summer.
Caroline Bryan Says She Was ‘Scared’ About Husband Luke Bryan Joining ‘American Idol’
When Smith asked, during the podcast taping, about Caroline’s trepidations surrounding “Idol,” she said, “Well, anytime you involve the whole L.A. stuff, you just get a little … I mean, I was scared. But it’s gone smoother than I ever thought. But you know, I was scared, I was. But then, it’s been fine.”
At an artist panel at the 2021 Country Radio Seminar, Bryan said that he had his own concerns about joining the show, including being worried his fans thought he was moving on from country music, according to Taste of Country. So he leaned on some famous friends for advice — Blake Shelton, who just left “The Voice” after 23 seasons, and his “Idol” predecessor on the judging panel, Keith Urban.
“My biggest thing with ‘Idol’ is, ‘Well, will it affect my music career?'” Bryan said, and then joked, “I had some talks with Blake Shelton, which I would never recommend, “and I even called Keith Urban up.”
Before the season 21 finale, during which Urban returned to perform and mentor the contestants, Bryan told Access Hollywood about leaning on him for advice.
“He was one of the first phone calls I made when I was thinking about being a judge on ‘American Idol,’ and he was so supportive of it,” he recalled. “He told me I’d be a fool not to!”
Despite her early concerns, Caroline has even appeared on the show. In 2022 when she pulled a prank on her husband as he and his fellow judges taped auditions, dressing up like a member of the cleaning crew. In between auditions, Caroline walked onto the set disguised in a wig, hat and surgical mask and began loudly cleaning the piano.
“Aggressive on the piano,” Bryan quietly said to Perry, who was in on the joke.
Once someone pretending to be a contestant started auditioning, Caroline stood in the background and made other loud noises, from letting her phone ring to opening a bag of chips, causing the judges to stop production. Bryan was floored once he figured out it was all a prank, which the couple loves to play on each other.
In addition to touring and “Idol,” Bryan has also been working on a new album. According to American Songwriter, his newest single, “But I Got a Beer in My Hand,” is the first release from an unfinished EP.