Luke Bryan was named Entertainer of the Year at the 2021 ACM Awards on Sunday night (April 18) — an accolade that the singer says caught him completely off guard.

"Totally surprised and shocked," Bryan remarked backstage in a virtual press room, where he was tuning in from Los Angeles, where he remains in quarantine after a positive COVID-19 test.

In fact, Bryan partially attributes his surprise at his award to the fact that he's attending the show remotely this year.

"I'm a little removed from being able to be in the room, and I wish so bad I could've been in the room, but still, the emotions are there," he said, a huge smile across his face.

"You never take these things for granted. You just don't," continued the singer, who has won the ACM Entertainer of the Year trophy twice prior to the 2021 ceremony. "I think you kinda tell yourself maybe you're done winning them, and to win another one is very special."

As he accepts his trophy at this point in his career, Bryan can't help but think back to his earlier years in country music — both the years when he won the EOTY trophy, and also the years when he thought he stood a good chance at winning the award, but ultimately didn't.

"My first Entertainer of the Year, when I won it, I didn't feel worthy. I didn't feel like it was time. I felt like it might have been premature," Bryan reflects. "... Listen, I'll sit here and tell you that I was very very surprised tonight by winning, and you know what, I have not won sometimes and was a little surprised I didn't."

However, the megastar adds that he tries to take the long view of his career.

"You can't get caught up in one year. You can't get caught up in two years. You have to be in the middle of doing it because you love it," he points out. One day when you're 75, 80 years old, and you look back at your body of work ... hopefully you can go, 'God, I loved every minute of that.'"

Keeping an even-keel perspective is the easiest way to attain career longevity, Bryan reasons, and that has always been his ultimate goal. "All I ever wanted was to do music for an extended amount of years," he says.

The 2021 ACM Awards are available to stream via Paramount+. Sign up for Paramount+ here.

See Pictures From the 2021 ACM Awards Red Carpet:

The best dressed on the 2021 ACM Awards red carpet brought color — lots of color — for an awards show that promises to be a celebration. Photos show stars like Carly Pearce, Kelsea Ballerini, Chris Young, Kane Brown and more wearing the hottest and often most expensive designer outfits, or suits they designed themselves, in the case of Jimmie Allen.

Check out a full gallery of country music's hottest stars on the ACM Awards red carpet. Who do you think is best dressed and worst dressed?

The 2021 ACM Awards took place at the Bluebird Cafe, Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Sunday (April 18).

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