Hunter Hayes will be the first to tell you that he has been lucky enough to get to meet and play with some of his musical influences, including Stevie Wonder and Garth Brooks.
Now he can add Elton John to the list. Hayes, who covered the title track of John’s classic album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road for the record’s 40th anniversary re-release in 2013, recently got a phone call from his idol — and it came at just the right time.
“I’ve been really blessed; I’ve met a lot of my heroes and they’ve all reached out and said, ‘If you need anything, let me know.’ You don’t want to abuse that invitation,” he tells Rolling Stone Country. “I sent Elton an email and [asked], ‘Do you have a second to chat?’ He called me and he gave me not as much advice as encouragement. He spoke so much positivity and strength and encouragement that can come from someone like that, who’s been through so much and is so brave. It was exciting. It definitely gave a new energy to my outlook on a lot of things, especially that day, that week, that month and, now, this year.”
Hayes didn’t want to get into specifics about the phone call, but stressed that John was “insanely encouraging.” Meanwhile, the young country star is shaking things up a bit by releasing a series of digital streaming singles, the first of which, “21,” debuted on Spotify last week. Hayes says John provided just the right words of courage, adding, “This is the year to be brave. I want to try some new things I’ve never tried before. It’s a lot of firsts coming from me soon.”
According to Billboard, fans can expect several more digital singles from Hayes, who is currently on the road with Lady Antebellum and Sam Hunt on the Wheels Up Tour.