Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sam Hunt Interview

If I were to say the name Sam Hunt a year ago you may not have the slightest clue to who I was referring to. Fast forward 12 months and if you are a fan of country music, I'd be willing to bet you've at least heard the name.
Sam Hunt is a singer songwriter that was born in Cedartown, Georgia and grew up playing sports. Sam was a college quarterback that went on to move to Nashville a few years ago. In the past few years, Sam has spent most of his time in small, dark rooms creating brilliant songs that some well established artists have picked up and recorded and put on their own albums. All three of these songs have done exceptionally well and they include Kenny Chesney's "Come Over," Keith Urban's "Cop Car," and most recently Billy Currington's "We are Tonight."

photo credit: facebook
Sam put a free mixtape up on his website last summer and since then has signed a major recording deal with Universal Records in Nashville. Sam's debut single from the upcoming album is "Leave the Night On." This single was released to country radio 6 weeks ago and as of today, it's sitting at number 7 on ITunes.
I've been a fan of Sam Hunt since he released the mixtape "Between the Pines" last summer. From seeing him perform with 100 people in the crowd to seeing over a hundred people waiting outside bars to get inside to hear him, I can honestly say that I've never met a more determined, deserving and dedicated artist.

Sam was kind enough to sit down with me for a few minutes before his performance at Bragg Jam last night.
1. A lot of people say that there is no connection between athletics and music. With your background as an athlete for most of your life before pursuing music, do you agree with this statement?
"I do disagree with the disconnect between athletics and music. I do think that there is a subculture that starts early on with the youth of America that starts to separate the two in a way that isn't necessarily fair in the long run. I think a balance of athletics and music is an important thing in any culture. That's sort of a philosophy that I actually read one time that I believe was from Aristotle. He talked about building a society of people that is in harmony and it talks about educating a balance of the two. If you're too strong on the arts, then you have a weak people. If you're too strong on the athletics, then you have a violent group of people. I think a balance of the two is something that is fundamentally important to balance a society. I know that's a little off topic but I do think that country music is the genre that has closely tied the two. It is still an interesting path to have gone from athletics to music the way that I did but it's worked out so far for me. I enjoy both."
2. When did you first start playing an instrument and which instrument was that?
"The guitar. I started out on an acoustic guitar and still haven't branched out much further than that. I learned to play the harmonica a little bit in college and then I bought a little keyboard just a few years ago. I've gotten to where I can play a few chords on the piano. Piano is probably still my favorite instrument so I'd like to continue to learn and get better at the piano."
3. What made you want to cross over from songwriter to singer/songwriter?
"I think the singing aspect of song writing is an important tool that I've tapped into. As a songwriter, you're combining music, instrumentation, melody, vocal and a lyric. So, to me, singing has been an important part of the melody aspect of creating for me. If I didn't sing at all, it would be tough to come up with the melodies. You don't necessarily have to be a singer to come up with lyrics. Fortunately, I've been able to use the singing element to come up with melodies that will help produce lyrics. I think the two (writing and singing) have always been connected in my approach.
4. What is one song that you wish you would have recorded?
"It's hard to say because recording a song, to me, is an 'in the moment' kind of thing. The song would have to relate to my life at that moment for me to be as passionate about songs as I have been in the past. Then, as I close that chapter and move into a new season, those songs that I was passionate about don't relate as much so it's hard to say. A couple of years ago a song that Miranda Lambert put out called "The House That Built Me" was a song that really hit home with me. I really love those earthy, singer-songwriter songs that come out every so often that someone like Miranda Lambert takes a chance on and puts out to radio. Then, those types of songs become hits. They are the underdog in 'commercial radio music potential' a lot of the times when you look at it from a business stand point. But, musically, if an artist can break through with songs like that, it just shows how great songs truly rise to the top."
5. What inspires you to write music?

"For inspiration, I typically have to relate to the emotion that I'm trying to express in a song. But, as a human being and as someone who lives a life a lot like the lives that a lot of other people are living, there's certain emotions and feelings that we all experience. Relationships are a big part of that. I tend to be inspired by ideas or emotions that I have lived out. Especially from a relationship standpoint at my age now. I'm sure as I get older and start to relate to different things as an adult, I'll write about those things. But, in the last few years, the songs that I've written have been mostly about relationship experiences because that's just the most emotional part of my life."

6. What's your favorite song that you've ever written?

"That's another thing that changes. I would have to answer that question in this moment and that may change in a week. Right now, the song that I really like performing and the same song that is going to be on the album is a song called "Break Up in a Small Town." I really worked hard on this song and spent a lot of time on the little nuances of that lyric."
7. What is one piece of advice that you would tell young artists to remember?
"I would tell those artists to write music that makes them feel something. Don't pay attention to genre boundaries. Don't pay attention to what other artists are writing. Don't pay attention to what any other songwriter has said before or think they might say. Just think about what makes you feel and say what you want to say. Sing in a way that makes you feel something and then see what comes out on the other side. Let yourself be vulnerable and hope that other people feel the same way that you feel about it."
8. What is an item on your bucket list as an artist that would mean a lot for you to be able to scratch off?
"I would say to make a record of songs that I'm proud of and that I didn't hold back on. A record that I sunk my heart and soul into and that's the position I'm in right now. I'm working on that record and I'm almost finished with it. That's still a milestone, probably the biggest one, for me, as of now. Until I do that, I can't really look past to what the next thing would be."
9. What's one thing you do before every show?
"I don't have any rituals that are consistent or are a necessity other than something like getting dressed."
10. What's the most memorable moment you've experienced so far as an artist?
"As a pursuer of a career in music, the most notable thing that has happened to me is having a song recorded by Kenny Chesney called "Come Over." That's the first time I had a song of mine reach the radio and the radio is such a pinnacle in the career I'm involved in now. That was such a huge thing and a big leap forward in my project."
11. You've toured with a variety of artists. What's one thing that you've learned from them?
"I think the biggest thing has been the hospitality and the appreciation that they have shown me as an opener. Now, knowing how that feels and what that meant to me, I want to always be able to express that to anyone in the future who might be coming out on the road with me as an opener or as a fellow tour mate. I always want to express my appreciation to anyone who is willing to share the stage with me."
12. Who were your favorite artists to listen to growing up?
"The only outlet I really had to listen to music growing up was the radio and it was always 90's country. So, I could probably sing word for word every song that was on country radio in the 90's. I could make a long list but just to name a few: Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, and Kenny Chesney. I was more a fan of the song rather than the artist so I'm just a really big fan of 90's country."
13. Your album is set for a fall release date. Will there be any songs on the album that were also on the mixtape?
"I have a few songs that deserved more of a life than just having been put on the mixtape. I'll put those songs on the album and there's six or seven from the mixtape that will be cut for the album. Of course, they'll be fully produced versions."
14. "Leave the Night On" has been on country radio for 5 weeks now and has already broken top 25. Did you expect the single to do this well, this quickly?
"No, not at all. You can only try to make predictions based on the past. I've followed country radio and new artists and sort of educated myself on how the charts work for a while. I'd never seen anything like that before so my expectation was not that high. I am proud to have a song on the radio no matter how many times it is spinning. To have it moving that fast is pretty insane to me. I don't get caught up in those things as much as I do focus on how many people are coming out to see us play. I look at how passionate they are singing the songs back to us and how many people are buying the song. Radio is huge but I didn't really know how to go about convincing them to play our music. Fortunately, the music spoke for itself. The only way I knew to get people to come to our shows was to give them music and that's why I put out that free mixtape and they spread the word which has been a huge testament to what we are doing. It's really meant a lot to me. It's cool because the radio helps us reach more people and that's a circle that keeps going and helps us out."
FAN QUESTION -I asked y'all on twitter and facebook one question you wanted Sam to answer and the number one response (by far) was the following:
15. How many pairs of shoes and hats do you have?
"I've loved shoes since the first time I saw a pair of LA Lights and my mom wouldn't let me get them because they were too expensive and the first time I saw a pair of Jordan's and my mom wouldn't let me get them because they were also too expensive. Since then, I've loved shoes. No matter what I have on, I like to have a good pair of shoes. I have a big industrial rack that is full of shoes and I don't really know how many pairs are up there. I'm ashamed to say but I definitely collect shoes. And the hat rack is right above it and it's loaded down, too."
As you can see from these answers, there's much more to Sam Hunt than being the new "it" guy in country radio right now. I'm so thankful to Sam and his entire band and team for always being so nice and welcoming at shows. I've never been more proud or honored to support an artist and I hope y'all will start to and/or continue to do the same. The crazy thing is, I have a feeling this is JUST the beginning for Sam Hunt.
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Sunday, July 20, 2014

musical musings

Happy Sunday!! If there is one day I love more than Saturdays, it's Sundays. There is absolutely nothing better than spending all day with family, friends and most importantly, God. I am loving life in this season right now and I'm so thankful that I've been able to experience life like I have recently.
I apologize for not being a committed blogger lately but quite frankly, I've just been happy living life without having the pressure of sitting down and writing about it all. I think every writer or blogger hits a wall every now and then and I think for the last month, I definitely hit mine.
I was able to spend the first week of July in one of my favorite places in the world. My grandparents have a place in Calabash, NC and my sister and I get a week long vacation with them every year. It is always at the right moment to recharge for the second half of the year and I adore all the family time we get during that vacation. I also have gotten a lot of questions about where we stay, where we eat, etc. so I'll be doing a vacation haul on here soon!
But, back to my first love--MUSIC. There is so much happening in the music world that I'm more than ecstatic to share with y'all. I've really been connecting with some artists lately and I can't wait to introduce them on Southern Samplings when the moment comes. Lately, I've noticed a surge in country music blogs. I don't want to be just another country music blog. My goal is to not go to every show I can just for the heck of it. I'm really looking forward to connecting with a core of 10 or less musicians to really promote and try to introduce y'all to new music. I hope that all the posts I do put up will inspire you to check the artists out.
Over the past month, I've also not been to a lot of shows. I been beaching, working, planning and saving but I haven't been "going" as much. I'm really buckling down and planning this Nashville move and I want to connect with just the right person to arrive in Nashville on time. I'm so grateful for the people I've met along the way and so grateful to each of you for reading along and always being so supportive and sweet!! I know it doesn't seem like much but just by clicking the link to catch up with me, you're helping fuel my dream. So, thank you!!
Like I mentioned above, I've really been into a few artists lately that I want y'all to check out. I'm going to link their names below to their website and/or social media site and encourage you to check them out and get behind these girls and guys before the rest of the world really takes notice of.
Keslea is an extremely talented and sweet girl!! I am so glad that I can call her a friend. We are looking and working together to get a feature about her soon on Southern Samplings but she has a single on ITunes, "Love Me Like You Mean It" that you should definitely buy. Call your radio stations and request it and find her on Twitter. She's definitely one of my favorite female artists that is well on the way to super star status.
Faren is another SWEET girl that is getting her EP ready to be released soon. She let me hear some of her tunes and I was so excited to add another female to my "watch" list. I'm really good at supporting and finding all these cool guys and I never had a long list of females that just got us girls. Faren is DEFINITELY one to watch and I love her music and her voice!

TJ also let me hear a few of the songs that he is working on for his upcoming album and he is definitely changing the way we will view country music. Think Sam Hunt in terms of beats w/ his own style of lyrics. I've had the tunes I've had a chance to preview on repeat since yesterday and am so excited to hear the full project! He's living in Nashville but been in Texas working on the album. Hurry back to the 615 with some music for us soon!

These two guys are definitely some people who you want to know who they are now rather than later. They've recently put up a FREE mixtape on their website and I cannot stress to you enough how amazing it is. I adore artists who are taking a mixtape approach to introduce themselves to the world and these two are definitely making a splash in Nashville. Give them a listen, download their mixtape, find them on social media--do whatever you need to but definitely connect with them.
Okay, so mentioned above are four amazing new/upcoming artists that you'll be thankful you check out. I did recently take a day trip to Nashville to see my very favorite people for a free show at Dave and Busters. And by that, I mean it turned out to be the biggest show Dave and Busters has ever seen. This was made apparent by the 3 bartenders they had for the incredible mass of people that gathered to see the one and only, Sam Hunt and band.
I've talked and wrote and drove and seen this guy more than anyone in the past year and I definitely believe in everything he is doing. Funny when I met him after a UAB football game 7 years ago that I'd go from cheering his team in the stands to cheering for him and his band in the middle of a free Nashville concert. I could never say enough good things about Sam. The integrity he has as a person and writer very obviously draws people to him. He's busy playing side stages at festivals this summer and all everyone can talk about it how he needs to be on the main stage. It's so fun to be able to say this time last year I downloaded his FREE mixtape and now his single, "Leave the Night On" is at number 24 on country radio charts.
He's the most genuine artist I've ever had the chance to connect with. If you don't have his mixtape--first off, shame on you. Secondly, please comment or email me so I can send you one. His music never fails to turn a bad day into a good one and I promise no matter how hard you try, you CANNOT outplay Sam Hunt music. It's like a law or something. You just can't.
The first time I saw Sam, the crowd was singing along to his hit's that other artists have cut and they just soaked up all the other songs he was playing. Thursday night, however, every single person there was singing along to "ex to see" as loudly as they were singing along to "cop car." It was SUCH a neat feeling. I'm so happy for Sam and his band and his whole team. I've never been treated better by a group of people and I'm so thankful to know them!

 Photo credit above: Sam Hunt Facebook
And this was taken before he even got on stage. By the end of his performance, the street was blocked!
Just in case you've been out of the loop and don't know, this is Sam.
Thank you so much for taking time to always making every person at your show thankful that they made the trip from wherever they came from.

Tyrone and Josh make Sam shows complete. They are the best guitarists in Nashville and give the best hugs. So happy for all these guys (and I missed you Josh L).

Also, shout out to my Nashvillian bestie Michelle for letting me stay with you, yet again. I adore your face and your air mattress bed. You're my bestie for life. And thank you Jordan, too! :)
This is a scattered post--much like my mind for the past month but I've been getting comments and emails from antsy readers about where I've been and what all I've been doing so I hope this catches everyone up to speed. The shows start coming up near each other for the next couple of months so I'll have lots to report on. So, check out all the newbies mentioned here and let me know if you or anyone you know still needs a Sam CD. Getting behind these guys has made 2014 the funnest year of my life so far. Thankful for the shows and the memories. And thankful for y'all reading along. :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

i'm not successful.

 I read an article in a magazine last week on the beach and I can't get it out of the back of my mind. It was talking about success and how the world defines it. And why the way the world defines it is wrong.
The world says that we have to own our BMW's with a husband and two kids with the white picket fence and our vacation house in the hamptons by the time we're 30. AND, we are suppose to be doing all of this while taking a conference call while we are in the drive thru at starbucks wearing our Valentino heels with our LV bag in the seat next to us.
And, is there anything really WRONG with that? No. There isn't. The only thing wrong with it is assuming every other girl who isn't doing that is unsuccessful. That's where it gets sticky and wrong.
I'm 24. I'm single. I'm not married. I'm not "successful" by the worlds terms.
But, I'm happy. I wake up every day and I honestly love my life. Isn't that enough?
It is for me. And it should be enough for you, too.
I'm single because I won't settle. I'm single because I won't have sex before I'm married. Maybe I'm single because I'm not pretty enough, not smart enough, not anything enough for a man. And that's fine. I know my worth comes from a much stronger MAN and his name is Jesus. I'm single because I refuse to settle. I refuse to play games. I won't be in a relationship just to be in one. I'm single because I care about my heart enough to keep it in one piece until a man proves he is worthy to have it.
I'm 24. I'm not 18. I don't live on my own or pay for all my bills. I'm figuring it out. I love traveling. I love music. I love my friends that play music. I love having the opportunities in this season to travel. To travel a lot. I'm in a season where I don't have a career and that's okay. I want to establish a career doing something I love. I want to go on mission trips. Lots of them. What if I go to Mexico and want to move there for a while and be a missionary? In this season, I can. I can volunteer at homeless shelters and bake cookies for firefighters in this season because I have time. I can tutor, volunteer and witness. I can do what I do because of the season and age I'm in/at.
I'm not successful because I work a full time "job" but it's not a career. I'm not a successful "writer" because I just have this silly little blog and write about stuff I like. No majorly popular sites publish my stuff. I'm not successful because I don't have a brand new car or a brand new house and I definitely don't have my vacation house in the Hamptons.
But, even with all of this "against" me, I'm happy. I LOVE my job and am grateful for it. I work with Christian people who support my dream to move to Nashville. I'm single but I LOVE getting time to grow closer to Christ so that my boyfriend one day will get to experience me with all my stuff figured out. I'm 24 but I'm in a season that I couldn't imagine not being in.
I'm just's up to you. You can hate your 9-5 dateless life or you can see everything that IS going for you. You can dream and make goals and plans and chase them with nothing holding you back. You can decide to be a positive person on a mission to make other people happy. It's up to you.
It's my prayer--whether you're 9 or 18 or 24 or 65 that you realize how great you have it. It's my prayer that you will find what makes you happy and you won't give up on the dream. Too many people give up. I promise, just keep chasing it. You never know what one more day can bring.