(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 can't say which of his three Grammy nominations he's most excited about. Why? "Because they're all Grammys. And I'm nominated for them," he told me before his Wednesday night (Dec. 12) show in Chicago. "So I'm pretty stoked for all of them, even though it's impossible to say which one I'm most excited about." But he did talk about what each one meant to him. The best new artist nomination is cool, he said, because it's an all-genre category. "I'm getting to wave the country flag and be that guy. I get to be the one representing the genre that I love, and that's an honor for me. But it's a tall order. Especially in a category with those insanely talented musicians." Those being Alabama Shakes, Fun., the Lumineers and Frank Ocean. Hayes is also nominated for best country solo performance and for best country album, in the company of the Zac Brown Band, Jamey Johnson, Miranda Lambert and the Time Jumpers. As for that one, Hayes thinks the competition is tough because they all have killer records. "We made my album in such a weird way, with me playing all the instruments, so it took much longer in the studio," he told me. "It was a matter of faith and patience." If Hayes wins the Grammy in February, he'll know his weird way was the right way.