The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is set to explore the music and career of Florida Georgia Line – the duo comprised of Belmont alumni Tyler Hubbard from Georgia and Brian Kelley from Florida – in the exhibit Florida Georgia Line: Mix It Up Strong. The exhibit traces the duo’s friendship and collaboration, from their meeting in their college days at Belmont to their swift emergence as a multiple-award-winning, genre-blending, fan favorite. Florida Georgia Line: Mix It Up Strong opens Friday, January 21, and runs through January 1, 2023.
Hubbard and Kelley met in 2008 as students at a weekly on-campus student worship service at Belmont. Both were influenced by a wide variety of music styles, and they began writing songs and performing music together, hoping to earn a living as songwriters. During this time, they led worship music for a youth group in Lebanon, Tennessee, and showcased their original, secular material at local songwriter rounds – eventually booking weekend shows across the Southeast.
Florida Georgia Line burst onto the country music charts in 2012 with their first single, “Cruise.” The song became a record-breaking No. 1 country hit, and its remix featuring the rapper Nelly hit No. 4 on Billboard’s all-genre Hot 100 chart. “Cruise” earned diamond certification from the Recording Industry Association of America, becoming the first country single to attain sales and streams equivalent to 10 million units. In 2012, the duo signed a record deal with Republic Nashville/Big Machine Records and released the album Here’s To The Good Times. They went on to earn a second diamond-certified single with “Meant to Be,” a 2017 collaboration with pop singer Bebe Rexha.
“Florida Georgia Line expanded the country music audience and created some of the most popular recordings in the genre’s history by embracing hip-hop and rock influences,” said museum CEO Kyle Young. “In less than a decade, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard have had twenty-five singles reach gold, platinum or multi-platinum status, with two of those singles – ‘Cruise’ and ‘Meant to Be’ – reaching the elite plateau of diamond sales certification. Very few artists in any genre accomplish that feat even once. The museum looks forward to exploring the duo’s distinctive music and career in this special exhibit.”
The Country Music Association named the album’s first single, “Cruise,” Single of the Year and honored Florida Georgia Line as Vocal Duo of the Year in 2013, their first of three consecutive wins in that category. The pair released many more No. 1 country radio hits, including “Get Your Shine On,” “Stay,” “H.O.L.Y.” and “Sun Daze.”
The duo’s success extends to songwriting and music business ventures. Hubbard and Kelley wrote many of Florida Georgia Line’s best-known songs and penned hits for other artists, including Jason Aldean’s “Burnin’ It Down” and Cole Swindell’s “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight.” They also launched their own label (Round Here Records) and song publishing firm (Tree Vibez Music), signing Corey Crowder, RaeLynn and Canaan Smith, among others.
Objects in the Florida Georgia Line: Mix It Up Strong exhibit feature instruments, awards, stage and screen costumes and personal artifacts. Some highlights include:
- A serape Kelley wore in Florida Georgia Line’s 2016 music video for “H.O.L.Y.”
- The Selmer Bundy II saxophone Hubbard played as a child
- Hubbard’s Alvarez AD-60SC guitar, which he customized and played early in the duo’s career
- A diamond certification award from the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) for “Cruise”
- A note from Hubbard’s high school classmates and teachers wishing him luck with his music career in Nashville
- A ball cap Kelley wore when playing on his high school baseball team, the Seabreeze Fighting Sandcrabs
- Kelley’s Takamine GB7C Garth Brooks Signature acoustic guitar, which Kelley used when writing “Cruise” and other hits
- Racing suits and helmets Hubbard and Kelley wore in the 2016 music video for “May We All” (feat. Tim McGraw)
- Ensembles worn by the duo on the cover of their 2019 album Can’t Say I Ain’t Country
- Hubbard’s first guitar, a Sigma DM-3 acoustic guitar, which he acquired in fourth grade
“I still remember being at the Country Q studio with BK [Brian Kelley] recording ‘Cruise,’ and having this feeling like we had created something special,” said Hubbard. “And I’ll never forget when BK said, ‘We’re gonna sell a million copies of this song.’ I thought he was shooting for the stars then! Neither of us had any idea what would happen next. To be chosen for an exhibit is the ultimate honor as an artist, and we can’t thank the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum enough. I can’t wait for opening day, when we can stand back and take in this blessing with everyone that’s supported us along the way.”
“When Tyler and I decided to go all-in and see where FGL would take us, we lived by two mottos,” said Kelley. “The first being, ‘Anywhere that would let us play our songs – didn’t matter if it was a bar, coffee shop, club or if the crowd was 10 people or 50 people – we would go just to be able to perform.’ And, the second, ‘Shake a million hands, to make a million fans.’ Fast-forward to today, and all that has happened over the past 11 years. It’s truly mind-blowing. We are both dreamers and always striving to go big. To have the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum now feature our wild ride is surreal and humbling. I couldn’t be more excited about this exhibit and to be able to relive each step of our journey. Here’s to the good times!”
In support of the exhibition’s opening, the duo will participate in a conversation and performance in the museum’s CMA Theater on Sunday, February 6, 2022, at 2 p.m., discussing their career and sharing personal stories and memories associated with the artifacts included in Florida Georgia Line: Mix It Up Strong. Tickets are available at CountryMusicHallofFame.org.
More information about this exhibit can be found at www.CountryMusicHallofFame.org.