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Keeping him company in the empty venue was his father, who came over from Combs' hometown of Asheville, North Carolina for the weekend to celebrate the career milestone with his son. During that night's show, the musician dedicated "One Number Away" to his "biggest cheerleaders" — his parents.
"This is everything that everybody has ever wanted to do," Combs mused.
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CALM BEFORE THE STORM
"I don't get nervous — ever — but I was nervous," Combs, 27, told PEOPLE of the first time he stepped on the historic venue's stage.
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FIX A DRINK
Combs took a stroll down the iconic alley between the Ryman and the back doors of lower Broadway's honky tonks, sipping on his drink of choice — a Jack and diet (Coke, not Pepsi, please).
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Combs made last-minute preparations in his dressing room, including putting on and adjusting his in-ear monitors.
"A year ago I was watching TV, eating pizza at a buddy of mine's house, and we were talking about how I was hopefully going to be [at the CMAs] next year," Combs said incredulously while reflecting on his rise this past year.
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Combs, his band and his team gather 'round for a prayer backstage each night before walking out.
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Pews packed with superfans greeted Combs as he stepped onto the stage, turning "Hurricane" and "When It Rains It Pours" into a massive group chorus.
"Knowing that your fans came from far and wide because they want that experience as much as I want that experience, it's pretty awesome," the singer-songwriter told PEOPLE.
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Combs rewarded the full house with a 19-song set, which lasted about 90 minutes and kept the majority of the audience on their feet the entire tim.
And there's more where that came from — the musician spilled the beans on his new music, revealing he's been back in the studio and recorded 20 songs in seven days.
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BAND OF BROTHERS
Combs took a moment during the show to highlight his bandmates, including steel guitar player Kurt Ozan and bandleader Rob Williford.
Williford and Combs co-wrote "One Number Away," the musician's current single climbing the charts.
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CHEERS TO YOU
"I'm just a regular guy," Combs previously told PEOPLE. "I think people can really relate to that. I'm very non-threatening. And I don't mean that in a disarming way. I mean that in a way that says, 'Hey, that could be my buddy that I hung out with in high school.'"
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Combs saluted the crowd with his guitar — and a heartfelt thank you.
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