While you were back-to-school shopping or studying for finals, Grammy nominee Hunter Hayes was writing future No. 1 hits and practicing his red carpet walk. So how does a 21-year-old first-time nominee prepare for such a big event as the Grammy Awards? Tuner spoke with the rising country star to find out.
Released when he was only 20, Hunter’s self-titled debut album is entirely him. He wrote or co-wrote all 12 tracks, and played a total of 30 instruments heard overall. His output is an impressive display of both skill and craftsmanship, and sweet songs like “Wanted” have led many a fan to fall deeply in love. Up for three Grammy Award—including the always-exciting Best New Artist category, which pits him against diverse acts ranging from Frank Ocean to the Lumineers—on Sunday night, he’ll soon be mingling with artists outside of country comfort zone. Read on to gauge just how he’s feeling before Music’s Big Night (nervous, or very nervous?) and learn whether he’s taken fans up on their prom invitations or, most importantly, allowed himself time for a “pinch me” moment.
VH1 Tuner: Since you’re from Louisiana, we have to ask: Were you in town for the Super Bowl? What did you think of Beyoncé?
Killed it. She was awesome. I think one of my obsessions with halftime [shows] is all the things you can cram into a 7-10 minute performance—I love that. It’s definitely something I want to do someday.
But first, you’ve got the Grammy Awards. How does it feel to have three nominations?
It feels fantastic, let’s start with that. The New Artist category means a lot to me just because of coming from where I come from. I was just really proud of the record as what it was, and I didn’t foresee any of this—obviously there’s no way to [laughs]. This is something I’ve dreamed about for a long time, and to get that kind of nomination—something that covers all genres and has the kind of names that it has in that category right now—is a really big deal for me.
What do you think about your competition in the Best New Artist category?
It’s amazing. You’re talking about people who are shaping sounds, making new sounds, and building new pieces to music that you’re going to refer to later. They’re not making good records or finding new songs, they’re finding new things, they’re exploring, and they’re searching. And I hope that at some point someone can say that for me. It’s impressive; they’re serious music-makers. It’s tough competition, but I’m just stoked to be included.
Who are you excited to see on Sunday night?
I’m just anxious for the whole thing.
Is there anything special you’re going to eat, wear, or do before the show?
I don’t how to prepare for the day of the Grammys, because I’ve never been to the Grammys. I’ll let you know afterwards when I have a routine [laughs]. Right now it’s going to be anything I can do to suppress nerves.
Do you have a date?
Flying solo. My parents aren’t coming—timing-wise it didn’t work for them to be able to come—but they will be watching. They will be part of it and I will probably be FaceTime-ing them half the night.
I’m sure any of the “Hayniacs” would gladly escort you.
[Laughs] We’ve had a marriage proposals, prom requests–which was funny because I never even went to prom.
Would you ever take a fan up on a prom date offer?
I probably would if we weren’t on the road so much.
Did you have your own musical crush growing up?
I’ve had a couple… I’ve had a lot. I’m going to plead the fifth, if it’s cool [because] it circulates, it changes every month.
Since you got such an early start with music, have you ever practiced an acceptance speech in the mirror before?
Yeah, I’ve dreamed about what an acceptance speech would sound like. I have no idea what I’m actually going to say because you can prepare as much as you want, when it actually happens I imagine it’s quite different. I know when I got the CMA award last year I was semi-prepared and even that just flew out the window rather quickly [laughs] so, we’ll see. Hopefully that’s an issue! [Laughs] Hopefully that’s a problem that we have.
Because we here at VH1 were early fans of this Southern gentleman’s endless talent, Big Morning Buzz Live‘s Carrie Keagan wanted to make sure he had a Grammy win face at the ready. Yes, in the era of Taylor Swift, everyone must be prepared. Watch below.
[Photo: Getty Images]