The Country Music Association’s choice as the best New Artist of 2012 earned his trophy because of his intense, single-minded dedication to his music.
Hunter Hayes works at his craft virtually every waking hour. In his world, there are no days off. There are no hobbies or outside interests. Everything is focused on musical self-improvement.
“With me, it’s always going to be music,” he states. “That’s the one thing I know. That is my thing. That is my place. I make music because it’s the only way I can breathe. This is how I want to spend the rest of my life.”
His laser-like focus has resulted in an album that is the talk of the country-music community. He wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on Hunter Hayes. He co-produced it. He sings all the vocals, and he plays all of the 30-some instruments heard on the record.
The barn-burning “Storm Warning” became the collection’s debut Gold Single. His gripping ballad “Wanted” soared to No. 1 and is quickly nearing Double Platinum status, lilting, groove-soaked “Somebody’s Heartbreak” has become the album’s third major hit –becoming a Top 30 hit in only two weeks and was most added week of release.
Whether mournful on a ballad like “Rainy Season” or passionately upbeat? on a tempo tune such as “Love Makes Me,” his performances on Hunter Hayes are consistently engaging. The airy “If You Told Me To,” bluesy and aggressive “More Than I Should,” softly persuasive “What You Gonna Do” and lightly wry “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” showcase various aspects of the gifted tunesmith.
The album’s textures range from the stately, thoughtful “Cry with You” to the upbeat yet philosophical “Faith to Fall Back On” or the sadly resigned “All You Ever.” Although Hunter Hayes is only 21 years old, these are the songs of a proverbial “old soul.”
Despite his youth, he already has a lifetime of musical experience. The Louisiana native began picking up various instruments when he was only two years old. At age four, he joined his first band. He took his accordion on stage and sang “Jambalaya” with Hank Williams Jr. that year, too. At age six, he was cast in the Robert Duvall film The Apostle. The actor gave Hayes his first guitar. Hunter recorded his first album when he was nine and his second at the age of 10.
“Being an only child absolutely helped,” he says of his extraordinarily youthful development. “I credit a lot to that. It gave me more time to be alone and spend more time with the art.
“I won’t say I grew up faster, but I definitely got into what I wanted to do quicker because I had to. Music was all I had. And my parents did everything they could to support me. They learned a business they knew nothing about, just so that I could make music. I was surrounded by positive energy all the time.”