Music

Country music star Sam Hunt, playing in Anchorage, plans to dive into the Alaska experience

Sam Hunt

Country music singer Sam Hunt arrived in Anchorage earlier this week ahead of a pair of shows he’ll be performing at the Alaska Airlines Center on Friday and Saturday.

His family and crew members wanted to make a trip out of their first visit to the Last Frontier.

One of the first things Hunt did upon arrival was buy a fly rod with the hopes of fishing for salmon.

While he hasn’t gone fishing just yet, he has been taking in the sights by going on long drives and hiking.

“I may get up in the morning (on Friday) and try and try again on Saturday,” Hunt said in an interview Thursday.

He said the decision to come up to Alaska resulted from both his tour and a desire to see the state.

“We got word that there might be an opportunity to come up and play, and I’ve wanted to visit Alaska for a long time,” Hunt said. “We have a pretty outdoorsy crew and band, so when the opportunity came up, I was like, ‘We will absolutely take advantage of that.’ ”

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The touring crew brought family and friends with them and have made a mini-vacation out of the trip.

He said he had not seen most of the country before embarking on his musical career.

“We’ve visited every state, so many places I would have never otherwise seen, and just have a really good time,” Hunt said.

He said he is “really making a point” of spending more time in the places he travels to perform than he did earlier in his career.

“Part of the reason we came up to Alaska was just to experience Alaska,” Hunt said.

[This weekend: Bear Paw Festival, plus country star Sam Hunt in Anchorage and plenty of other musical options]

From football standout to renowned singer-songwriter

Hunt grew up in the small town of Cedartown, Georgia, where he played football, basketball and baseball. Even though he enjoyed music, he never imagined himself as a musician.

“I’ve always been a big music fan, listened to it my whole life, but never attempted to play or sing or create music,” Hunt said.

He received an opportunity to play football at the collegiate level, and the summer before he went off to join the Middle Tennessee State University Division I program, Hunt decided to purchase his first instrument.

“I bought a little pawn shop guitar and started to learn some songs,” Hunt said. “That sort of transitioned into writing songs, and I started to entertain the idea of, maybe I could move to Nashville and find a way to put it to use somewhere.”

Despite having never played an instrument until he got out of high school, Hunt has gone on to become an award-winning country music star. He won multiple accolades for his hit song “Body Like a Back Road.” He earned an American Music Award for New Artist of the Year in 2015 and received the CMT Music Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year in 2015 as well.

But his music career was nearly superseded by his athletic pursuits.

After transferring to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he enjoyed a few standout years, Hunt briefly pursued a career in professional football.

Hunt was invited to the Kansas City Chiefs rookie minicamp in spring 2008, but he didn’t make the team — and moved on to pursue his musical career.

“I took off to Nashville after those NFL doors closed and never really looked back,” Hunt said. “It wasn’t really a dream of mine to play in the NFL. It was just a potential opportunity after college.”

He said he fell into the songwriting community when he moved to Nashville and wrote songs for three or four years. At first he was writing them for himself, then he started to try to get his songs played by other artists.

“That was life for me for a long time, and then I completely consumed myself with music the way that I had consumed myself with sports,” Hunt said.

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It paid off, and he had some of his work recorded by many of the country music stars he grew up listening to.

“I had songs recorded by Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and Billy Currington,” Hunt said. “Reba McEntire recorded a song a few years later.”

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He said that those opportunities put him on the radar of multiple record labels.

“After getting some songs recorded, I was able to get a record deal, make an album of my own, take off in a van with some of the guys I was playing and hanging with at that time and never really looked back,” Hunt said.

Music has opened a pathway for Hunt and his crew to not only see parts of the country that they never imagined they’d see, but other parts of the world as well.

“We do a little tour over in Europe,” Hunt said. “Growing up in a little small town in Georgia, we didn’t travel much farther than the beach, which would’ve been the Gulf six or seven hours south of us.”

Sam Hunt with Brett Kissel

8 p.m., Friday-Saturday

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At Alaska Airlines Center

Tickets: $69, $89, $109, $149 available through the venue’s site


Josh Reed

Josh Reed is a sports reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. He's a graduate of West High School and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

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