If a cloud of white smoke says there’s a new Pope elected, leave it to Brantley Gilbert and his wife Amber to figure out how to use pink or blue smoke as a means of gender reveal for this firstborn child. With friends and family close-by, the man and the woman he’s written all of his songs about fired a rifle into a target packed with Tannerite powder in the appropriate color.

“It seemed like a fun, different way to do the reveal,” says the man with the back-to-back platinum albums of shooting the target “about the size of a beef jerky container” packed with powder. “And it felt like something that I’d really do. But I don’t think any of us thought we would get so emotional.”

With close to 40 people in attendance, enjoying snacks from a Varsity food truck, the mood was light. But once that blue dust started to fly, so did the emotions.

“Everybody was crying,” Gilbert exclusively told People Magazine about the reaction. “I turned around, and I think that’s when it hit me that everybody’s wanted this for us as much as we did for so long. When the blue cloud went up, well, that made it even more real. Now we know it’s a little boy, and he’s going to have to get ready for a whole lot of love.”

The love started long before the Gilberts knew they were having a son. Over the weekend, fans brought onesies that said: “1) Crawl, 2) Walk, 3) Ride” and “Don’t Mess with Me, My Dad’s Brantley Gilbert,” as well as a teething toy that looked like brass knuckles. “I can’t help talking about my life – ‘cause that’s what all these records are written about. – and when I mentioned the baby before ‘You Don’t Know Her Like I Do,’ the response almost took the roof off the pavilion. They cheered almost louder than that than for all the songs!’

Given their struggle to conceive, the Cinderella couple is over the top about the news that they’re having a baby. That the child is a son is even sweeter. “Amber and I thought it was a little boy. I don’t know how or why, but we just did. I’d’ve been happy with any baby, boy or girl. But there’s something about the idea of a little guy…”

Though only 16 weeks in, the husband and wife are ready to become mommy and daddy. For the rough’n’tumble country star, it’s not so much about settling down, as embracing every moment for all it’s worth. As Gilbert marvels, “It was about the best party, ever. We saw people we loved, and they got to be part of something Amber and I will never forget. It made finding out we’re having a little boy so much better – as if that’s possible.”

With The Devil Don’t Sleep Tour kicking off to 13,000 in Tampa, the BG Nation rallying “The Ones Who Like Me” arriving at radio now and a little boy on the way, Gilbert’s life is finding a new plateau of joy and serenity. While still growing, the baby sets the stage for a new phase in the songwriter who was nominated for the CMA Song of the Year for “Dirt Road Anthem.”