OFFSTAGE: Hunter Hayes on His Family’s Leap of Faith

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

Hunter Hayes wasn’t quite done with his junior year of high school when he moved to Nashville. He did so with his parents, coming to Nashville from Louisiana almost overnight. “My folks and I, we moved about five years ago. It was a huge leap of faith. And a quick decision — and we are not a quick-decision kind of family,” Hayes told me Wednesday (Dec. 12) during his trip to Chicago. “We’d been visiting Nashville for about three years. Every month, we’d take a weekend trip.” That was when Hayes started talking to people in the industry, and once he got a publishing deal, his mom made Nashville happen almost overnight. “She went up there two weeks before the end of my junior year in high school. She rented a house, she put me in the school district and got me enrolled in their summer program,” he explained, which allowed him to graduate from high school before he would’ve even started his senior year. “I’d considered college,” he admitted. “But I felt the momentum, and I felt like once I got this opportunity, I needed to invest every minute of my time into what I was doing. The closer we got, the more I wanted to devote all my energy to this. This had to be my focus. I didn’t want to do night classes. I just wanted to go full steam ahead.” Good move, both for Hayes and for country music fans.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.