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Sam Hunt: “It’s What You Leave Behind”

Classic Randy Travis Song Stuck in His Head at CMT Artists of the Year

Sam Hunt is the reason so many people are in a bit of a love/hate relationship with modern country music. It’s because the newcomer appears to be the very definition of where country music could be headed.

He closed the show on a lighthearted note with one of his smash singles, “House Party.”


And yet, when he accepted his CMT Artist of the Year award on Wednesday night (Nov. 2), he brought up a 13-year-old country song about a farmer, teacher, hooker and a preacher.

“The last couple of days, I’ve had this line from a Randy Travis song stuck in my head: ‘It’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you, but what you leave behind you when you’re gone.'”

That’s from Travis’ 2002 hit “Three Wooden Crosses,” a very traditional country song about redemption and leaving something important behind. Like a blood-stained Bible or, in Hunt’s case, some meaningful music.

“I’ve been thinking about some of the cool things we’ve been able to accomplish over this past year. It reminds me that it’s not about me and my accomplishments, but it’s about what I do with them,” Hunt said.

“This music thing, it’s going to go away at some point. Maybe a year from now, maybe five years from now. If I’m lucky, longer than that,” he said. “Hopefully, when it does, I will have brought something of value to people’s lives. I’m grateful for this award because it gives me an opportunity to do that.”

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