HITS Daily Double


What does being recognized by the Grammys mean to you?
To be recognized by the Grammys in general is a huge honor, but to be nominated for Country Album of the Year, with these other amazing albums, is really special and humbling. We poured so much into this album, and it’s such a personal record for me. To be nominated is really the cherry on top of an amazing year.

How do you feel your music and songwriting have evolved since your debut?
I’ve definitely evolved a lot since we released “It Goes Like This.” Since that time, I’ve toured over six years across the U.S., Canada and the U.K., gone from opening act to direct support act to arena-level headliner and become a husband and father twice over—and I’ve continuously written songs along the way. I think that with each piece of success comes a little more confidence and validation to keep pushing the boundaries and tell the truth in my writing. Truth is what ultimately connects.

What do you consider the most interesting new developments in the country world?
It’s a really exciting time to be part of country music. I think the most interesting thing is that so many different styles can exist within the genre, from Chris Stapleton on one end to people like Sam Hunt and myself on the other, but we’re all part of the same family. What unites us is the storytelling behind the songs, and the fact that we get to have such great variance sonically is really interesting and inspiring. The fans love it all; otherwise we wouldn’t be here.

How did your duet with Maren Morris come about, and what do you remember most about its creation?
My manager [Virginia Davis of G Major Management] brought that idea to the table. The song wasn’t written as a duet, but after we recorded it my manager suggested that it would be cool to have a female voice on there. Maren immediately came to mind as the person we most wanted to do this—thankfully, she said yes. What I remember most about the recording is just how effortless it was for her. She came into the studio and sang for about 45 minutes and was done. She’s just that great a singer, and now I can’t imagine that song without her voice on there.

What was bigger for you this year—earning a Grammy nomination, having a #1 record or meeting Bruno Mars
Man, all three were really special. I am going to be diplomatic here and say that none of them would’ve happened without the others. The album going #1 in all genres was mind-blowing, and I think having that level of success definitely helped us achieve the Grammy nomination. I’d wanted to meet Bruno for forever, and I think it was perfect timing that I finally got to meet him the week my album was #1. The first thing he said to me was “Congrats on the album,” so all three of those experiences co-exist for me.