Hunter Hayes Celebrates “I Want Crazy” Success with Co-Writers Lori McKenna, Troy Verges

Letter From Young Fan Reminds Well-Wisher of the Inspirational Power of Music

Awards are comforting and record sales keep the rent paid, but few things are as emotionally uplifting to an artist as a heartfelt fan letter.

And Hunter Hayes got one Tuesday (Oct. 8) while he was basking in the chart success of his latest single, “I Want Crazy,” with his co-writers Troy Verges and Lori McKenna.

The celebration took place during lunch hour at the Nashville headquarters of BMI, the performance rights organization.

After all the chief movers and shakers behind the single had sprayed the honorees with hyperboles, Michelle Kammerer of Country Radio Broadcasters stepped up to offer a few more words of praise.

But instead of speaking for the CRB, she read an email her 7-year-old goddaughter had sent her when she heard Kammerer would be attending the Hayes party.

“Please tell Hunter Hayes I said hello,” the letter read. “Hunter Hayes is the best singer, the best guitar player. He is so cool. I love his music. He is really, really talented. I want to play guitar like him. ‘I Want Crazy’ is my favorite song. The people who wrote it are very smart. Please shake their hands and tell them good job. Give Hunter Hayes a hug. Love, Avery.”

That was pretty much the highlight of the event.

BMI’s Clay Bradley declared that “I Want Crazy,” which deals with the euphoria of love in its early stages, is “the perfect example of the kind of music Nashville makes on its best day,” an ideal blend, he said, of “art and commerce.”

On Monday, Hayes did a final rehearsal of the show he’s taking on the road as a headliner later this week. CMT on Tour: Hunter Hayes’ Let’s Be Crazy will encompass 24 shows in 21 cities.

John Esposito, head of the Warner Music Nashville, under whose corporate umbrella Hayes records, reported that the artist has sold 7 million singles and performed 500 shows since 2011.

Dann Huff, Hayes co-producer, characterized “I Want Crazy” as “one of those dream songs. It says what we all want to say.”

“The day that we wrote this song,” McKenna said, “I knew I was the luckiest woman in Nashville.”

McKenna first gained attention in 2005 when Faith Hill included three of her songs — among them the title cut — on her Fireflies album.

McKenna subsequently opened shows for Hill and Tim McGraw on their Soul2Soul tour. A mother of five, McKenna said, “My 12-year-old is really bummed that she couldn’t come [here today] to be with Hunter.”

Hayes referred to his co-composers as “professors of songwriting” and then told his supporters, “I’m just excited you guys picked me to make music.”

There was a brief pause in the proceedings while the stage was cleared and the three spotlighted songwriters strapped on their guitars.

“If you guys are cool,” Hayes said, “we’re just going to jam. … This is my favorite way to say thank you.”

And with that, they blazed into “I Want Crazy,” while a few in the crowd discreetly backed away to revisit the bar and buffet table.

View photos from the party.
Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.