Hunter Hayes

By Bob Doerschuk

© 2011 CMA Close Up® News Service / Country Music Association®, Inc.

At only 20 years old, Hunter Hayes has already picked up an impressive amount of experience as a performer and writer. Born in Breaux Bridge, La., he was immersed in music by age 2, when he began replicating songs on a toy accordion his grandmother gave him as a birthday present. Hayes was just 4 years old when he joined the house band at a nearby Cajun restaurant as an accordionist; a year later, he was fronting the group as its lead singer. Also at age 4, he sang “Jambalaya” with Hank Williams Jr., a performance that has since been viewed 15 million times on YouTube. Then, at 6, he went through triple rites of passage as he appeared in the film “The Apostle,” began playing the guitar the film’s star Robert Duvall had given him and wrote his first song.

Fourteen years of stage seasoning followed. Empowered by lessons learned in the spotlight, Hayes moved to Nashville in 2009. Advancing quickly, he signed with Universal Music Publishing Group and with Atlantic Records, who will release his self-titled debut album on Oct. 11, 2001.

The 12 tracks on Hunter Hayes, co-produced by Hayes and Dann Huff, are a tour de force even by recording veteran standards. Not only did Hayes co-write 11 songs and write the 12th by himself, he also played every instrument on the record — more than 30 to count. Hayes’ diverse influences permeate the album. A hint of Stevie Wonder is evident in his artfully soulful vocals on several tracks. Blues riffs reminiscent of John Mayer find themselves on a number of tracks from his debut single, “Storm Warning,” written by Hayes, busbee and Gordie Sampson, to the love ballad “Wanted” (Hayes and Troy Verges). Yet the overall feel is Country all the way, with a mix of drama and down-home that marks Hayes as a unique stylist.

In His Own Words

“‘Another Way to Die,’ the James Bond theme by Jack White and Alicia Keys.”

“‘Heartbreak Warfare,’ by John Mayer.”

“My necklace with a cross and dog tag.”

“I could spend years on a bus just fine.”

“For the Love of Music.”

On the Web:

Source: Country Music Association

Hunter Hayes Photo by Juan Pont Lezica / Provided by Country Music Association

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