Sam Hunt has made a name for himself mixing his childhood love for country music with his passion for R&B sounds. The combination has led to one of the biggest hits in pop and country music this year — “Body Like a Back Road.”
Now, Sam is performing a little solo acoustic set during his “15 in a 30 Tour” dates to show how he came to mix those two genres.
Raised in the small town of Cedartown, Georgia, Sam grew up loving country music. It was all anyone listened to in his hometown, and it fit their country lifestyle.
“That’s the culture I was born into,” Sam says onstage in the video above. “Growing up, I could not tell you the difference between Nirvana and Madonna, but I knew every single Alan Jackson song he ever put out.”
Sam then performs a bit of Alan’s 1991 smash “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” as well as Travis Tritt’s “Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares).”
He says of the profanity in the chorus of “Here’s a Quarter,” “My sweet mother would not let us say that word [damn], but we’d be whispering it behind her back when she wasn’t looking.”
From there, Sam started listening to R&B music with his older cousins, and he just took to it quickly. He explains why while performing bits of Usher’s “Nice and Slow” and R. Kelly’s “Ignition.”
Once Sam takes you through that evolution, he plays a few of his own songs to show how the styles came together. The acoustic jam session ends with “Come Over,” the hit he wrote for Kenny Chesney, as well as his sultry song “Speakers,” the last cut on Sam’s 2014 debut release, “Montevallo.”
For Sam, the message behind melding country and R&B goes beyond just mixing two cool forms of music. The generation coming up behind him wasn’t simply exposed to country and R&B on separate radio stations. They’ve grown up getting their music online and on their phones. Sam sees that diversity in music helping “tear down some of the walls that have divided people in this country for a long, long time.”
He says, “People in America have more in common today than they ever have, and no generation has ever been as culturally integrated as this generation is. This generation — y’all don’t pay attention to genres of music, you don’t pay attention to genres of people. You listen to what makes you feel good and hang out with people you like, not people who look like you.”