Sam Hunt Credits Taylor Swift With Opening Up Country Music

Sam Hunt is a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, and a whole lot unique. The 33-year-old says he might not have had the freedom to make the music he wants to make, if not for artists who paved the way for him – including one big country-turned-pop superstar.

"Taylor Swift, for instance," Hunt tells Taste of Country. "She really expanded the country music appeal and the boundaries of what we can do musically, I feel like."

Hunt also credits Florida Georgia Line with opening up the genre as well, along with Chris Stapleton who, on the other hand, introduced the traditional country roots that some country music fans had been missing, including Hunt.

"Sometimes I struggle with it because I have this sound that I came up with," says Hunt. "We got fans now that like that sound so sometimes I hesitate to deviate too much from what we've been doing because I don't know if my fans' tastes are as eclectic as my own as a songwriter. So that can be a tricky thing when I'm writing songs. Sometimes I'll write a song that I feel is me authentically but if some of our fans heard me playing that song they would think, 'That doesn't sound like a Sam song.'"

The new wave of country artists will likely point to Hunt as one of their influences, since he has also successfully pushed the boundaries of the country music genre.

"I have a lot of people who come up to me who I would not imagine — who I would have not guessed have liked my music — who come up and say, 'Hey I didn't necessarily listen to country music before I heard your music, but I'm into country music now,'" Hunt reveals. "The traditional country music fans are a little easier to spot. Some of the new fans that have come on board, I wouldn't have predicted."

Hunt just released his latest single, "Downtown's Dead," from an upcoming new album that is the follow-up to his 2014 Montevallo record. While fans have been eager for the next project from Hunt, the Georgia native says he wasn't ready to release anything until he had songs he loved.

"It's hard to explain to folks who aren't necessarily writing songs or in this business," Hunt tells Yahoo!. "When I'm singing a song as an artist, there's only so much that I really want to say or have to say. I haven't had a whole lot to say in the past year. So I've been writing songs that I don't really feel are representing me, so I haven't put out a record in the past year."

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