Country musician Sam Hunt to perform at 4-H & FFA Fair
By JACOB DENOBEL and Times Staff Writer
Jul 19, 2014 | 9:30 PM
Growing up in Cedartown, Georgia, Sam Hunt grew up living a country lifestyle. A former college quarterback who signed as a free agent for the Kansas City Chiefs, Hunt moved to Nashville to begin a career as a songwriter. After several hits, including Kenny Chesney's "Come Over," Keith Urban's "Cop Car" and Billy Currington's "We Are Tonight," he has branched out into performing. Hunt's single "Leave the Night On" was named Country Music is Love's "Top 14 Songs of Summer." Hunt will perform at the Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair Saturday, Aug. 2.
Q: How did your interest in music develop?
A: I bought a guitar when I graduated high school from a little pawn shop in the Georgian town where I'm from. When I moved to college, I slowly started to learn a few of my favorite songs. Soon, I got bored of learning other people's songs, so I had to start writing my own. I had a passion for that from the start. I eventually entertained the idea of moving to Nashville to find out if I could make it. At that time, I was more interested in honing my songwriting skills than hitting the road and touring.
Q: How has the transition from writer to performer been?
A: It was a pretty easy transition. I'm still writing music as part of my own projects. I have been excited to get out of town and out from being inside all of the time. There's something special about playing music you created for a live audience rather than recording in a small studio as someone else sings your words.
Q: Is there a different process to writing for yourself versus writing for another performer?
A: I've never really had much luck trying to write towards someone else. You know, you think you know someone and you can study their music, but you don't know what they'd like or might say. Instead, you have to just be honest to yourself. That authenticity attracts other artists to you.
Q: What role does growing up in rural Georgia play in your music?
A: I grew up in a rural environment outside of any metropolis. The nearest city or urban environment was a couple of hours away. You had to be creative for what you did for fun. So you resorted to the woods, to being out in the creeks or driving on back roads. We did a lot of hanging out in corn fields or cotton fields. That's where I grew up. I think creativity is usually inspired by an emotion. I try to tap into those things in life and let the emotions inspire the creativity. I tend to only authentically write about things I've experienced, or things that were a part of my life. It starts with growing up in Georgia, the lifestyle, the relationships, the things we did there and all of the things that are part of growing up in southern America. A lot of those things are relatable on a human level, wherever you grew up, but some of those things are more specific to growing up in the country and living a rural lifestyle. You blend those two together and tap into whatever experiences the idea calls for. My songs are usually pretty literal and usually relates to my upbringing.
A: I'm not extensively educated on all the different genres of music. I don't have all the terms. The music I perform is a blend of a lot of genres, with a country focus. I think, subconsciously, I've included music I've heard throughout my life, either in a car, in a football locker room or checking out a band back in high school. All those things build my musical taste and the music I'm creating now. I don't really have any specific genres or artists that influence me. It's more of a compilation of all the music I've been exposed to over the past year.
Q: Country music has always been defined by its lyrics. What do you see as the role of the lyricist in country songwriting?
A: I think storytelling is the element in country music that most strongly defines it. I've always loved that in country music, and I've always loved that about the people I've grown up around. My granddad was always a storyteller. We'd sit around and he'd tell stories and everybody was on the edge of their seat listening. The stories didn't have to be significant, but the way he told them is what made them interesting. That's definitely at play in my songwriting.
Q: You come from a football background; are there any similarities between that experience and your musical career?
A: The biggest thing I bring from football is discipline. You can seemingly get away with being more undisciplined in music. It doesn't require as much from you physically but to be good and to create. I've been able to carry over the importance of doing the right thing and prepare in the right way to be successful. The competitive spirit that is important in athletics has always been something that's driven me to compete against my own expectation or standard.
Q: You talked about being excited to get out of the studio and perform in front of audiences. What is the joy of performing live?
A: To be able to experience that connection that music can have among a group of people in the moment is pretty powerful. To see someone or to hear about someone hearing some music of mine and feeling compelled to share it with someone else is something that's pretty great. If someone else can feel the light that I felt when first hearing a song I loved, that's a pretty cool thing to inspire.