(Read all about Sam Hunt after the video)
Sam Lowry Hunt (born December 8, 1984) is an American singer and songwriter. Born in Cedartown, Georgia, Hunt played football in his high school and college years and once attempted to pursue a professional sports career before signing with MCA Nashville in 2014.
Prior to his successful solo career, Hunt was credited for writing singles for Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, Billy Currington, and Reba McEntire. His debut studio album Montevallo, broke several chart records with five singles spawned from the record, including three consecutive Hot Country Songs chart and four Country Airplay chart number ones. The lead single from the album "Leave the Night On", peaked atop concurrently on the Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts, bringing Hunt to be the first country music artist in 22 years, after Billy Ray Cyrus, to reach the top of three country music charts simultaneously since the Nielsen SoundScan-era began. He is also the first country music artist since Clint Black to occupy both year-end number one album and single with Montevallo and "Take Your Time". The fifth single "Make You Miss Me" from Montevallo, hit number one on the Country Airplay chart, thus making Hunt the first solo male artist to land four number ones on the Country Airplay chart from a debut studio album.
Upon the launch of his career, Hunt has quickly assumed recognition from both inside and outside the country music community for his boundary-breaking artistry, incorporating use of R&B and pop into the production and songwriting of his songs. He has been honored with numerous awards, including one American Music Award, and one CMT Music Award, as well as nominations for Billboard Music Awards and Grammy Awards.
Life and career
Hunt was born on December 8, 1984 in Cedartown, Georgia, United States, the eldest of three children born to Allen and Joan Hunt, an insurance agent and a teacher respectively. He studied at Cedartown High School where he played football. He was named 2002 Co-Offensive Player of the Year, was selected for the Georgia Sportswriters Association All-State Class AAA first-team as an all-purpose player, and was a Wendy's High School Heisman nominee.
He was a quarterback for two years at Middle Tennessee State University and two years at UAB where he majored in philosophy before graduating with a business degree in economics. He had limited action in six games with Middle Tennessee; at UAB, he started only seven games during the 2006 season due to injuries. After practice every day, he would teach himself how to play acoustic guitar. With respect to the root of his interest in music, Hunt recalled between stops in tour, "I never saw myself as a musician or having any musical talent... I was just killing time that summer, and a buddy had recently bought a guitar. I picked it up one day and on a whim thought, 'You know, I think I want to buy a guitar.'" Hunt's college roommates, having listened to a few songs he wrote, encouraged him to book shows at bars, marking the start of his pursuit of a career in music.
After graduating from UAB in 2007, his football talents were noticed by the NFL and he was invited to training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs. "I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I needed to find out if I could take it all the way," Hunt said. In 2008, two months after the unsuccessful attempt to impress the football team, to the surprise of his family and friends, he left to pursue a music career, and moved to Nashville along with a friend with only "some food and two mattresses and [...] his mom's minivan".
Hunt co-wrote Kenny Chesney's 2012 hit "Come Over", for which he received an ASCAP award. He also wrote two singles released in 2014: Keith Urban's "Cop Car" and Billy Currington's "We Are Tonight". Hunt independently released the single "Raised on It" in September 2013 and in October 2013, he released via his website a free 12-song mixtape titled Between the Pines. Hunt also co-wrote "Love Somebody", the title track from Reba McEntire's twenty-seventh studio album of the same name.
2014–16: X2C and Montevallo
In January 2014, it was confirmed that he had signed a recording contract with MCA Nashville. On August 12, 2014, he released X2C, a four-song EP, intended as a preview of his debut studio album. The EP debuted at number 36 on the Billboard 200 chart and number five on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, selling 8,000 copies in its first week.
Hunt's first single for MCA Nashville was "Leave the Night On", which went to number one on the Country Airplay chart in October 2014 and has since been certified Plantium by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The music video for the song earned Hunt two CMT Music Awards nominations, winning him Breakthrough Video of the Year, as well as one Billboard Music Award nomination. His debut studio album Montevallo, was released on October 27, 2014. On the same day, Sam Hunt released Between the Pines: Acoustic Mixtape. The album is made up of acoustic versions of his hit songs, including his versions of ones that he wrote for other artists. Universal Music Group Nashville president Cindy Mabe explained the date of the release: "The idea was to release it on the same date that Montevallo was released [in 2014] as a one-year anniversary gift to fans and Sam's way to offer more music and a thanks for the support." On November 5, 2014, Montevallo debuted at number one on the Top Country Albums chart and number three on the Billboard 200 chart. It opened with 70,000 units sold. The album included his own version of "Cop Car". The second single from the album "Take Your Time", peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The track spent 11 weeks at number one of Hunt's 17 weeks in 2015 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, making him the sixteenth artist in the chart's 57-year history – and the fifth in the past 50 years – to rule for 10 weeks or more. With Montevallo and "Take Your Time", Hunt became the first country music artist since Clint Black to have his debut studio album and single to peak atop the year-end charts in the same year. Five days after the release of Montevallo, Hunt announced his first tour Lipstick Graffiti. Tickets went on sale on November 14, 2014. Within a short time of going on sale, the tour sold out at 15 of the venues. In 2015, he served as an opening act (alongside Hunter Hayes) for Lady Antebellum's Wheels Up Tour.
Hunt was featured on Billboard for the issue of August 29, 2015, where he opened about breaking down country music stereotypes. He served as a background vocalist on Carrie Underwood's song "Heartbeat", which was released in October 2015. To commemorate the one-year anniversary of Hunt's debut studio album Montevallo, Between the Pines was re-released on October 27, 2015, peaking at number 31 on the Billboard 200 chart. Hunt won his first American Music Award for New Artist of the Year on November 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
For the week of September 10, 2016, Hunt's fifth single "Make You Miss Me" from Montevallo, hit number one on the Country Airplay chart, thus making him the first solo male artist to land four number ones on the Country Airplay chart from a debut studio album.