Multi-Grammy nominee Hunter Hayes is diligently committed to his craft.
You could even say his musical journey has been his life’s work. However, the articulate country newcomer claims there is
actually no “work” involved.
“My dad said it when I was young, and I believe this is true,” he said. “When you love
what you do, you never work a day in your life.
“I think the happiest people are those who find what they love and
do whatever they can to do what they love to do,” he went on. “And I’ve been really, really fortunate to be able to make music
because that’s what I live for. And because I live for it, it’s very easy to stay up until 4 o’clock in the morning in the
studio and not realize it. You’re just having fun.”
Though the singer-songwriter is only 21, don’t let his age fool
you. He’s far from a musical novice. In fact, the well-spoken Louisiana native sang and played the accordion at age 4 and
has devoted much of his lifetime to honing his craft, mastering numerous instruments and fine-tuning his songwriting chops.
What’s more, he’s expanding his audience, too, opening shows for Carrie
Underwood during her Blown Away tour.
But the proof of his efforts lies within his Grammy-nominated and self-titled
debut gold record. Nominated for best country album, it features his multiplatinum selling hit, “Wanted,”
which is nominated for best country solo performance. But his recognition doesn’t stop there. He’s also holding a spot alongside
the best new artist nominees cross-genre, running alongside the Alabama
Shakes, Fun., the Lumineers and Frank Ocean.
everything,” he recently told CMT.com regarding his latest accomplishments. “It means something went right in the first
record process, and I don’t know what it is. I wish I could write it down and do it again. It means a lot to me because that
first record was my introduction. I put everything I had into it, but I didn’t have nearly the perspectives — and I won’t
say experience because I don’t have much more experience now. But that was the beginning. That was my way of saying, ‘Hi,
I’m Hunter. Nice to meet you.’”
With the Grammy Awards airing Sunday night
(Feb. 10) on CBS, Hayes shared his thoughts on a few Grammy-winning classics ranging all the way from 1965 to today.
on My Mind,” Willie Nelson
1982: Best Country Vocal Performance
Male, Song of the Year, Best Country Song (Songwriters: Johnny Christopher, Mark James, Wayne Carson)
That’s a song
that’s been covered a lot because it’s so relatable.
“Does He Love You,” Reba
McEntire (With Linda Davis)
1993: Best Country Vocal Collaboration
duo there! Two of some of the most iconic voices. It’s just one of those songs you’ll never forget. I feel like everybody
knows that song.
“Go Rest High on That Mountain,” Vince Gill
Best Male Vocal Country Performance, Best Country Song (Songwriter: Vince Gill)
Quintessential Vince Gill song. I feel
like when you mention Vince Gill, if someone is crazy enough not to know entirely who you’re talking about, that’s one of
the first songs I go to. Beautiful song. Beautiful performance. Gosh, nobody else could even touch that song, and I don’t
think anybody ever should. I think it should forever be a Vince Gill song. As much as I would love to sing that song, I just
know that I could never do it justice. That’s just one of those songs he performed and made it his own so well. It is timeless.
Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ole Days,” the Judds
1986: Best Country
Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal, Best Country Song (Songwriter: Jamie O’Hara)
I heard that song a lot on the
radio when I was in school.
“Jesus, Take the
Wheel,” Carrie Underwood
2006: Best Female Country
Vocal Performance, Best Country Song (Songwriters: Brett James, Gordie Sampson, Hillary Lindsay)
It was such a huge
hit and such a huge moment for someone that I am lucky enough to tour with. I love that she still does it in her show. I’ve
actually heard it every night in her show. It was such a great introduction to get to know somebody. It’s a beautiful song.
of the Road,” Roger Miller
1965: Best Contemporary (RR)
Single, Best Contemporary (RR) Vocal Performance Male, Best Country Western Single, Best Country Western Vocal
Performance Male, Best Country Western Song (Songwriter: Roger Miller)
That’s one of those songs everybody in
the world knows. You’ve heard it at one time or another.
“Stand by Your Man,” Tammy
1969: Best Country Vocal Performance Female
Iconic. I don’t know any other words other than “timeless.”
in My House,” Ronnie Milsap
1983: Best New Country Song
(Songwriter: Mike Reid)
Oh, my gosh! Standard in my world. I am a huge, huge Ronnie Milsap fan. I have been
for a long time. I remember one year I had his 40 #1 Hits collection, and I didn’t take that out of my stereo for the
entire summer I was home. That is absolutely one of my favorite songs from him — period. I actually covered that song for
a couple of years in my show.
“There’s a Tear in My Beer,” Hank
Williams Jr. and Hank Williams Sr.
1989: Best Country
I go immediately to the technology. The fact that you can do that. They took a track that was made
in those days and brought it to now, and he was able to sing with his father and even interchange some of the parts and things.
That’s fascinating to me.
“You’ll Think of Me,”
2005: Best Male Country Vocal Performance
of my favorites from him actually. “Take your cat and leave my sweater” is one of those lines that just connects. When I heard
that line in the chorus, it was like, “That’s brilliant!” It’s so iconic. That song is so real, so relatable. Again, one of
those soundtrack songs. I remember turning that song on as part of my soundtrack.