OFFSTAGE: Hunter Hayes: LeAnn Rimes’ Worst Nightmare

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Back when Hunter Hayes was about 5 years old, he performed on Music City Tonight , the music and talk show that aired on TNN: The Nashville Network. And after he played, host Gary Chapman host asked him, “You realize you are LeAnn Rimes’ worst nightmare?” It was a joke, of course, but that was in the ’90s, when Rimes was a young teenager and the reigning child prodigy in music. (When Rimes was younger, someone probably called her Tanya Tucker’s worst nightmare.) But you have to stop what you’re doing and watch this vintage Hayes for a few reasons. First of all, Hayes is playing the hell out of an accordion that he taught himself to play. He’s only about 30 pounds at the time, and his accordion weighs 18 pounds. And when he sits down for the post-performance interview, talking about his heroes like Wayne Toups and Jo-El Sonnier, he never really stops playing the accordion on his lap. It’s like Hayes already had a song in him, 24/7.