As a country music superstar, Luke Bryan has the potential to speak to, and influence, hundreds of thousands of fans, both through his music and his public words and actions. The "One Margarita" singer knows, therefore, he has to be diplomatic with his comments — but he's not afraid to stand up for his beliefs, either.

"As you get a higher profile, you do watch your words carefully," Bryan tells the Los Angeles Times. He adds, "I'm always gonna walk a smart line, but I'm not scared."

The artist points to "Most People Are Good," his 2018 No. 1 single that features a diverse music video cast and the lines "I believe you love who you love / Ain't nothin' you should ever be ashamed of."

"That can be taken a lot of ways," Bryan reflects. "I had a lot of people ask me, 'Well, does that mean you want to plant a flag and support the gay and lesbian community?' I’m like, 'I’m not saying I’m gonna go fly that flag — but I’m not saying I’m not either.'"

Bryan's walking the same line as many of his peers and country music predecessors, especially those who hold more liberal ideals. While classic artists such as Johnny Cash were vocal about a variety of social and political issues, and some younger artists are using their platforms to boldly speak up, many within the country music community are concerned about taking a stance because of the way the Dixie Chicks were blackballed after doing just that in regards to President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.

Bryan says he doesn't see country music fans as the conservative, uber-patriotic group they've been painted as: "The stereotype where everybody’s like, 'Oh, write a song about guns and America and the troops and veterans, and it’ll be a hit' — I don’t view the country audience like that," he explains.

Country music's audience is growing younger and more diverse, especially as out-of-genre collaborations become more popular and rap, hip-hop and other styles of music continue to influence the country sound. The genre's diversity, or lack thereof, has especially come into focus since the May death of George Floyd and the resulting protests and conversations about racism and inequality in the United States. Bryan says he sees the industry "getting better" in that regard, himself included, if slowly.

"I watched Darius [Rucker]’s interview [with the Today show] on race, and I have sat up at night after hearing from African American audience members who say they’ve felt uncomfortable at my shows through the years," Bryan explains. "It’s a delicate conversation, and do I think we may take a little longer in country to have it? Probably. But it’s the conversation we’re having more and more."

Bryan's new album, Born Here, Live Here, Die Here, will be released Friday (Aug. 7).

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