CMA winner Hunter Hayes to sing hits, new music June 14 at festival

June 09, 2013|By AMY DULEBOHN |
  • CMA winner Hunter Hayes to sing hits, new music Friday at festival
Submitted photo

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Hunter Hayes is ready for an “Encore” of sorts. The Grammy-nominated country singer is set to release an update of his self-titled 2011 debut album, on Tuesday, June 18.

The CD, appropriately titled “Encore,” contains re-releases of all the tracks from the debut, as well as three new singles, Hayes said during a June 1 telephone interview from Salem, Va., where he was set to perform at the Blue Ridge Music Festival.

He’s releasing this redux of his album because, he said, he could.

“You never walk away from a record and say, ‘That’s it. I’m happy with this record. I wouldn’t change a thing,’” he said. “But with records, you have to finish them and consider (them) done or you will ... run out of money,” he said.

While his album has sold more than 700,000 copies and spawned hits including “Storm Warning,” “Somebody’s Heartbreak,” his first No. 1 “Wanted,” and the latest single, “I Want Crazy,” Hayes said he wasn’t ready to record a new album. “Adding to the (debut) fits my life right now. I’m tearing down walls to allow everyone to see where I am now (musically). It keeps everyone on the same page,” he said.

What’s more, Hayes explained, is that he will perform all the music from “Encore,” minus the duets, when he headlines the Gettysburg Festival at 7 p.m. Friday, June 14, on Memorial Field at Gettysburg Festival.

“I’m really excited about the show,” he said.

Hayes opened for 95 shows on Carrie Underwood’s recent tour, which included a stop in nearby Hershey, Pa., but Hayes said his Gettysburg stop will be an entirely different experience.

“We tore down everything from the Blown Away tour. We’ve got a brand new set, and a brand new show,” he said. “We’re resetting the stage, rethinking our show and using what we’ve learned from (the last tour) to create the new show.”

In the process, Hayes said he will be getting back to his roots this summer, playing fairs and other outdoor festivals. “We’ll get out there and sweat a little bit. I’m looking forward to it. That’s what I grew up playing,” he said.

“I want to play a show that’s about the unity of music, instead of just playing music to the crowd. We’re here to sing and dance all together,” he said.

The 21-year-old Louisiana native is no stranger to performing. He started playing music at the age of 2, and can now, in addition to singing and writing music, play dozens of instruments, including more than 30 that are featured on his album. He plays all his music by ear.

“I still can’t read music, and I think that has helped my creative process, or just the way I think. I couldn’t imagine trying to read music at this point,” he said.
His early abilities were fostered by his parents, who Hayes said, had no musical background or, really, even ability. But, when asked where he got his talent, Hayes was quick to change a reporter’s words.

“I wouldn’t use (talent) so loosely. I got my passion for music, well, it beats me,” he said with a chuckle. “When I was young, music moved it, it got my little high-energy self, excited. Then, music became my ‘thing.’”

While other kids were playing sports, he spent his weekends playing music and practicing during the week, he said.

His parents were very protective of him, he said, saying that they developed a small management team that worked out of their home.

“Now I’m surrounded by a team of professionals, veterans of the business,” who have been with him from the beginning.

The young musician began playing Cajun music, and semi-famously performed on-stage with Hank Williams Jr. when he was just 4 years old, singing and playing the accordion.

Over the years, though, Hayes said he has developed an appreciation for various genres. “I try to take in as much as possible to find little pieces of everything for my music,” he said.

In country music, he named Bryan White, Brooks and Dunn, Diamond Rio, and later, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts as some of his influences, while Nickel Creek is one of his bluegrass influences.

“I couldn’t be a bigger fan of Stevie Wonder,” he said.

He also likes the Police, Bruno Mars and Christian band MercyMe, and has worked with a number of musicians. “John Mayer introduced me to Stevie Ray Vaughn’s style of guitar playing,” he said.

All this work added up to a 2012 win for the Country Music Association’s best new artist. He said he was shocked to get the nod.

“I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ It was a combination of excitement and ‘Oh my heavens, I don’t have a speech prepared.’ But I’m not complaining. That was a good problem to have,” he said.

As for the future, he said he expects some big announcements coming in the near future, but for now he asked fans to “stay tuned. It’s a fun year for us and we’re having a blast,” he said.

Hayes also said he won’t forget where he came from.

“I just wanna give a huge thank you to everyone,” who’s come to the shows, bought the album and supports him. “I’ll never forget that,” he said.

If  you go ...

Hunter Hayes
When: 7 p.m. Friday, June 14,
Where: Memorial Field on the campus of Gettysburg College, 155 W. Lincoln Ave., Gettysburg, Pa.
Cost: $25 and are available online at
More: The Gettysburg Festival runs through Sunday, June 16

The Herald-Mail Articles