Sam Hunt grew up in a small Southern town. He spent his school days concentrating on sports, but feeling his attachment to music grow deeper, he decided to move to Nashville.
Hunt grew up in rural Cedartown, Georgia. An athlete all his life, Hunt wound up playing football through college, ending his time there as starting quarterback at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Somewhere during his time at UAB, he picked up a guitar, and while learning the songs of such great singer-songwriters as Townes Van Zandt and John Prine, Hunt began putting rudimentary chords together and writing tunes of his own.
After college, the NFL had taken notice of his talents on the field 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,” he says. “But by then I knew that if football didn't work out, I was going to Nashville.”
Arriving in Music City, USA without a real understanding of the different paths an aspiring musician might pursue, Hunt was able to play a few of his original songs around town and was soon offered a publishing deal, enabling him to write full-time. He fell in with the songwriting community and the conventional methods of collaborating, but he knew that he was developing a sound that was slightly out of sync with the standard Nashville formulas.
His songs started to experiment with ways to mix more modern beats and tones with the narrative and wordplay that define the best country music. Along the way, Hunt met producer Zach Crowell, who made beats for the Antioch rap crew. They holed up together at Crowell’s home studio for long hours, matching tracks to lyric ideas and developing a new way to write country songs.
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