If there’s one country artist who’s capturing the mainstream’s attention, 2015 proves it’s Sam Hunt. With his fusion of urban rhythms and acoustic country, he walked away with the all-genre New Artist of the Year trophy at the American Music Awards. In 2016, he vies for the equivalent honor at the Grammys.
Proving he’s not afraid to push the boundaries of what a male country artist can do, he added covers of hits by women like Wynonna’s “No One Else on Earth,” and “Fancy” by Reba, when he set out on his Lipstick Graffiti tour in January. Combine that fearlessness with the work ethic of a former college quarterback, and that meant there was no slowing down for Sam Hunt for much of the past twelve months.
He set out on the Wheels Up jaunt with Lady Antebellum and Hunter Hayes, before checking in on several dates on Luke Bryan’s 2015 Farm Tour. Along the way, he found time to duet with Taylor Swift on his hit “Take Your Time” during her stop at Chicago’s Soldier Field during her 1989 World Tour. Taylor’s take on the Georgia native? “Such a star.”
Billboard’s tally ranks Sam’s debut as the best-selling country album of the year. By the time Montevallo marked the one-year anniversary of its release in October, all three of its singles had reached number one, with a fourth still making its way up the charts. Sam celebrated by giving a free concert for more than 10,000 fans outside the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
The “Break Up in a Small Town” hitmaker also surprised fans by digitally re-releasing his much-talked-about Between the Pines: Acoustic Mixtape that contains his versions of hits he wrote for Kenny Chesney, Billy Currington and Keith Urban.
As 2015 came to a close, Sam turned his attention to his sophomore effort, admitting he’d someday like to make a purely R&B album and envisioning a straight-ahead country record in his future, too. Next year, he teams up with Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert and Old Dominion to play stadiums on the Spread the Love tour.
We’ll find out if he can nab the Best New Artist Grammy February 15 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. Montevallo is up for Best Country Album as well.
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