One of the most poignant memories I have growing up is singing to the radio while my mom drives me to school in the morning and after school. Listening to the guitar strings and hearing the crooning of country music will always trigger memories of long road trips with my family and dancing in the kitchen with my dad. Over time, country music has developed the reputation of only having one sound and repeating the same things over and over, with themes like heartbreak, drinking, praying to God, and trying to woo the girl. While there are plenty of songs like that, I tend to see that each artist has their own style to spin on these templates for stardom. One artist though that stands out from the others is Hunter Hayes, who started out in Nashville in 2008, as a songwriter and became a performer in 2010.
Hunter was no stranger to singing and playing instruments before this, though. He was playing instruments before he was four, singing songs in both English and French. Performing locally and nationally, Hunter even performed at a White House lawn party during Bill Clinton’s term as president. While a majority of his concerts has Hunter either singing or playing the guitar and sometimes the piano, he can play more than 30 instruments, similar to how Stravinsky was noted to be able to play various instruments as well when writing the scores for the ballets he helped to produce. Both men had expertise in more than one aspect of producing their musical creations.
In producing his albums, Hunter Hayes does more than just sing the songs, he writes them as well. He wrote by himself and with others. One song he wrote by himself appeared on the soundtrack for the movie, Act of Valor. For some songs on his album Storyline, he comments on how he would collaborate with others about the lyrics and talk about what music would go along with it. There are even times that the collaboration helps him to determine what story he wants to tell with his music, like his song Invisible. He talks about how they were trying to write a love song but then talked about not fitting in, and how they each had their own story about it. The story went on to talk about how they each found their place where they fit in, and Hunter felt he was meant to share that story. This reminded me of Melcher’s interview about jazz music where it mentions the artist’s “message must be greater than the limitations of the instrument.” This is what I feel makes Hunter stand out. Even though he can play so many instruments and sing so well, it takes true creativity to be able to pull a listener in and share a story beyond the music and lyrics.
In each of his songs, there is a greater sentiment that can touch someone besides what you hear in the song. Whether it is talking about love, God, or just growing up, there is something in his music that makes me feel. His music speaks about more than what is normally seen in the stereotype of country music. It takes creativity to be that diverse in crafting music and words that fit so well together while at the same time expressing thoughts and ideas without saying it out loud. Just putting on one of his songs makes me want to get up and dance. At the same time, I think about how the lyrics speak to my own experiences, be it feeling like no one sees me, or enjoying the feeling of being another year older. There is something special about Hunter Hayes and his music, something I am looking forward to discovering more and more with each new song.