Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011
How one hometown hero deals with making it big
By Emily Henagan • Photos by Scott Clause
Wearing a midnight-colored henley and faded dark denim as he’s greeted with deafening screeches from his predominately female audience at Crowley’s Rice Theatre, Hunter Hayes certainly looks the part of the next country heartthrob. He also possesses a savoir faire that is unparalleled, one that makes this Breaux Bridge native apt to handle the spotlight while still keeping his local color.
“Growing up in Breaux Bridge really grounded me,” says Hayes, who just landed a “Milk Rocks” campaign in which he will be featured on more than 25 million milk cartons in schools across the U.S. “I grew up around people with good values, compassionate people. It was critical to my songwriting; growing up in that environment just changed my life. That’s the reason I am everything I am today.”
And everything 20-year-old Hayes is today is a seasoned and triple-threat musician who writes and produces his own music and plays every instrument on his self-titled album. When asked how many instruments he plays, Hayes can not even list them.
“I think last time we counted, I played 30 instruments on the album,” he modestly says. “I am self-taught with all my instruments. I just never had a taste for lessons. I wanted to experiment and find my own way.”
Not a product of a “momager” or a musical family, Hayes found his own way toward his budding music career. “I think it was really good that my parents weren’t musical,” says Hayes. “They weren’t living vicariously through me. They let me make music and do things at my rate; they were just there. They’re excited to see that this crazy dream of mine is actually happening. They supported me all the way. They never doubted me. I am forever grateful for that.”
Hayes moved to Nashville at age 18 and ever since then has made some megastar connections. He jammed alongside Australian country crossover Keith Urban, toured with country music sweetheart Taylor Swift and wrote a chart topper, “Play,” for country mega group Rascal Flatts all before turning 20.
“It was inevitable that we would pitch the song to them [Rascal Flatts], and they liked it and ran with it,” says Hayes, who began writing songs at age 6. “The day when I had my iPod on shuffle, heard my demo then heard the Rascal Flatts’ single was the day it clicked for me. I totally freaked out. It was so cool.”
A wunderkind, Hayes began his career as an ambassador of Louisiana “swamp pop” who played at festivals and for President Bill Clinton on the front lawn of the White House. Gracing the stage alongside Hank Williams Jr., Hayes belted out “Jambalaya” and played an accordion bigger than he was at age 4.
“Where I started out prepared me in every way for where I am today,” says Hayes, who cites Adele and Mumford and Sons among his musical influences. “Back then, I didn’t know nerve; I didn’t know the risk; I didn’t know anything but music. That was what I did. The support I received wasn’t the norm, but I am so glad I had it.”
Hayes started off in Cajun music, and says he notices a lot of similarities between Cajun and country music.
“The heart of the music is very similar,” says Hayes, whose self-titled album peaked at No. 5 on the iTunes Music Charts. “It’s just all real — real problems. It’s the soundtrack to everyday life. Cajun and country music were founded on the same principles.”
And these principles Hayes portrays in his music relate to relationships and love. He says he wants to make the same kind of music he fell in love with.
“I want my music to move people,” reveals Hayes, who is currently headlining a nationwide tour. “I want it to lyrically light a fire in someone, and to evoke strong emotions. My new album is a nervous thing for me. I’m presenting myself with no walls — complete transparency. I just want people to like it. I want people to feel like it’s theirs.”
Meat, cheese and veggies piled high on Texas toast
American companies export smog; UN calls for cease-fire in Gaza; fist bump keeps germ transfer down and more national and international news for Monday, July 28, 2014.
Monday's Blogs from the Bog!
Louisiana has joined nine other states in support of Indiana’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that the Hoosier State’s ban on sam-sex marriage violates the Constitution.
The eclectic vibe of summer
Three bedroom River Ranch cottage or four bedroom Youngsville traditional home
The parent of Investar Bank says its second-quarter earnings fell to $1.1 million or 26 cents a share from $1.7 million of 44 cents a share in the same period a year ago.
1,554 rigs were exploring for oil and 315 for gas. Two were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago there were 1,770 active rigs.
The Saints are being cautious in an effort to minimize risk of re-injury.
Most personal auto insurance policies exclude coverage when people charge money to drive others in their personal vehicles.
In this letter to the editor, Lafayette Parish School Board member Shelton Cobb (the board's former president) weighs in on the difficulty behind this year's budget process, calling out a number of his fellow board members over their inability to drop their power struggle with the superintendent and make the interests of the students a top priority.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
LSU Health Sciences Center says people with a common, hard-to-treat kind of lung cancer can join a new national trial to test drugs faster.
As New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis spoke about the opening of training camp, steep, tree-covered mountains were in full view behind them.
The family of fallen cyclist Lon Lomas is speaking out after the release this week of the man charged with his death.
"The solutions are obvious: undo consolidation, or amend the charter to make this hybrid attempt at a new form of government work better."
A refreshing twist at a Lafayette institution comes served with a black bean salad stuffed avocado
Louisiana's 21 casinos took in $203.5 million statewide in June, edging up one-half of a percentage point from a year earlier.
Three bedroom Sunset Victorian or three bedroom Opelousas Acadian home
Louisiana designer commissioned for NYC Awards gift
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is considering whether to get involved in a lawsuit against Gov. Bobby Jindal for his attempts to undermine use of the Common Core education standards in Louisiana's public schools.
Business First Bank has announced plans for a Baton Rouge market expansion through a merger deal with American Gateway Financial Corp.
Acadiana's nightlife guide.
The latest meeting of a south Louisiana flood board that stirred political turmoil with a lawsuit against the oil and gas industry is taking place amid uncertainty over the future of the lawsuit — and the board's own membership.
The photos taken nearly a mile under the Gulf of Mexico are so clear that small holes are visible in a lifeboat that may have gone down or been scuttled when a passenger ship was sunk by a Nazi submarine in 1942.
Advocate columnist and Jindal shill Quin Hillyer has been against the New Orleans levee board lawsuit from day one, but a recent piece targeting author/activist John Barry prompted the perfect rebuttal from the board’s former vice-president, who takes Hillyer to task on just about every distorted claim he’s made on the issue.
INDEats and EatLafayette want to give one lucky foodie and friends the most memorable meal — here’s how you can win
Thousands of people who bought health insurance through the marketplace created by the federal health care overhaul face price hikes next year that could top 10 percent.
Three bedroom traditional Lafayette home or three bedroom Breaux Bridge home
Style market slated for old Artesia