By Radio.com Staff
You may not know the name Sam Hunt just yet, but there’s a good chance you’ve heard his music.
That’s because Hunt is one of the writers behind several high-profile country hits, including “Cop Car” (for Keith Urban), “We Are Tonight” (for Billy Currington) and “Come Over” (a No. 1 for Kenny Chesney).
Now Hunt is venturing out as a performer as well. Recently signed to MCA Nashville, the Cedartown, Georgia native has just released his debut single, “Leave the Night On.” To celebrate that release, Hunt is CBS Radio’s Launch artist this week.
With lyrics about new love, fresh music and jeans that fit just right (“Girl, you got the beat right, killin’ in your Levis”), a sweet voice and a musical sensibility that unabashedly blends country with influences from pop and R&B, Hunt has crafted a catchy anthem that’s built for summer sing-alongs.
“There used to be a very specific divide between genres and styles,” Hunt says, explaining the foundation of his sound in a promotional video called Who Is Sam Hunt? that was released late last year. “But the Internet and YouTube and the content that we’re all exposed to has blurred those lines.”
Hunt played football in college—he was a quarterback, in fact, at both Middle Tennessee State University and University of Alabama at Birmingham. But ultimately music took over, and he found himself in Nashville. His sound, though, was built in part out of his football experience.
“Country music is not really the best pregame, get ready for a football game [type of music],” Hunt explained during a private show for listeners at Chicago’s US99.5 (a Radio.com station) this week. “So I listened to a lot of hip-hop, uptempo rhythmic R&B natured music, in those years I spent in locker rooms. When I got a guitar, those two influences came into play.”
His parents listened to a lot of 1990s country, and the foundation behind the genre has obviously stuck with him, as both a performer and a writer.
“You can’t really contrive a great song, no matter how hard you try,” Hunt says in the video. “Some element of the song has to come from a genuine place. And when I started tapping into that, I started to find some success as a writer.”
That success as a writer led to him recording a mixtape of his own songs called Between the Pines, which he released last year. And now he’s found himself signed to MCA Nashville.
“It was crazy enough to have a song I’d written that someone else was singing on the radio,” he told the crowd in Chicago. “And now to think that I have a chance to be on the radio now singing myself is a pretty wild thing.”
Hunt’s debut album is expected later this year. His lead single “Leave the Night On” is available now.