Sam Hunt is a player.
No, not a playa (although some may say he is). That’s not what we mean here.
Hunt is a Grammy-nominated and award-winning country music artist and songwriter, but did you know he was also a football player? Georgia-born, he was a quarterback for Middle Tennessee State University and UAB. The Kansas City Chiefs even invited him to their training camp in 2007.
“I never saw myself as a musician or having any musical talent,”
he told Rolling Stone. “I was just killing time…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.'”
And so he did. He learned songs by musicians like Townes Van Zandt and John Prine and then started to put together his own tunes.
So how did this six-foot-four, roughly 200-pound man with a magic arm end up playing country music? How did he end up writing hit songs for Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban, and Reba McIntire? Why is he singing love songs instead of making millions by playing in the NFL?
What happened? The city of Nashville and a publishing deal happened, that’s what.
“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 on his website. “But by then I knew that if football didn’t work out, I was going to Nashville.”
So why country music? Why not, say, folk or acoustic funk? Picking up a guitar could take you into any genre of music, not just country.
“I always loved country music,” he says on his website. “I used to take the car keys from my mom and sit in our driveway listening to the car radio. But I was also hearing a lot of other music – hip-hop and R&B. In some ways, that really gospel-based Southern R&B might be my favorite of all.”
Hunt broke into the country music scene by releasing a free mixtape, “Between The Pines,” on his Facebook page in 2013. In these songs, he made sure to infuse some hip-hop and pop influence.
“You want to stand out and be unique and do something different,” he told Rolling Stone. “I always try to zig when they zag – I guess it’s a football term, but it applies to a lot of different areas of life.”