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If you don’t think music is a living thing, think about how much it has evolved since the days of the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. Heck, back then Bob Wills could have been ostracized from country music because of the electric guitar in his band. And then Chet Atkins and Patsy Cline, on the forefront of the countrypolitan movement, were considered pop country. After that, Garth Brooks was chastised for his rock star-like shows in a format known for artists mostly just standing still.

And now, a new generation of artists is taking country music to new places, including Sam Hunt.

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Country fans may think of Sam as one of the artists who are introducing pop, urban and hip-hop influences into the format, and we can’t argue with that. But the handsome young man from Cedartown, Georgia, is also deeply in touch with his country roots, which is why he is an in-demand co-writer. Sam was part of the writing team that put William Michael Morgan on the map with “I Met a Girl,” and also sexed up Kenny Chesney’s catalog with the steamy “Come Over.” He also helped give Billy Currington a little dance for his party pants with the anthemic “We Are Tonight,” and in an era where story songs are infrequent, Sam and his co-writers delivered “Cop Car” to Keith Urban. Heck, even Reba McEntire cut one of Sam’s songs, “Love Somebody.”

Now that’s country!

It’s safe to say that Sam is comfortable in the writer’s room, but he’s also comfortable outside the lines.

As we said, the tall and handsome newlywed has been at the forefront of young artists tapping into their diverse influences that include pop, rock, urban, R&B, and hip-hop to create a fresh and hip new brand of country music. And while the grooves, arrangements and production may have been inspired by those other formats, Sam’s songs are still profoundly country. Themes of love, heartbreak, good times, dirt roads, small towns and tipping a few back run rampant through the artist’s albums, and sound as authentic as can be.

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It’s hard to believe that Sam is really still in the beginning stages of what is looking to be an insanely prolific career. His contribution of “This Land is Your Land” to the Will Smith movie, “Bright,” is certain to make an even bigger audience aware of his warm, gravelly vocal.

It was hard to limit ourselves to just five things we love about Sam Hunt, and we didn’t even touch on how incredibly warm and kind he is, but Erin has a respectable list of our favorite reasons in this Rare Country’s 5.

And check back in later this week when we’ll have more of the news and fun from in and around country music in Rare Country’s 5.

Based in Nashville, Tammy is a 20-year veteran of the country music community. She has worked in marketing, PR and artist development. Follow her @TammyGooGoo and join the conversation @RareCountry
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