If you’re looking for the next great country outlaw, look no further.
Ponchatoula, Louisiana’s Hunter Morse, at just 18 years-old, has made it his mission to keep “the good stuff” alive, whether Nashville accepts him or not.
After the successful release of his debut album, “Outlaw Music Man,” Morse, a senior in high school, jumped on to the radar of many in the outlaw and traditional country scenes.
As he prepares to take the next step in his career, hear from Morse about the “Outlaw Music Man” album, growing up in a musical family, what he hopes his heroes would say after hearing his album, and more!
Pro Country: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
Hunter Morse: Merle, Waylon, and Hank Jr. My paw paw, Wayne Morse, he played honky tonk in the 70’s and 80’s, so I come from a Pentecostal/Musical background.
And there were always music and instruments everywhere we went. The old-timers with their bluegrass and instruments. That’s where my love of music came from.
PC: Was there a specific moment you knew you wanted to make music for a living?
HM: I’ve just always known. When I was around 6, we went to Nashville. In the back of the Opry, there was a little recording booth that you could pay to record a song. I only knew 2 songs at that time, “Long Black Train” and “Amazing Grace,” so I sang Amazing Grace, and so my parents say, I said, “One day, I’m gonna sing on that stage, right there.” (laughs).
PC: Were you feeling any type of pressure, internally or externally, as you were preparing to release music for the first time with the “Outlaw Music Man” album?
HM: A little bit. I didn’t know which way it would turn out as far as bringing back the good old traditional, classic, outlaw country. The real stuff.
PC: What instilled a love of outlaw music in you? What is it about the genre that appeals to you?
HM: It’s real. Real stories, their stories. They did it their way, good or bad, right or wrong, they didn’t do what they were told would “sell,” they gave their heart and soul, and people connected with them. It was pure.
PC: What kind of validation does it give you when the song “Outlaw Music Man” goes on to achieve more than 7,000 streams on Spotify and thousands of views on YouTube?
HM: I was glad I recorded it. I knew in my heart that it was going to be the one and people would connect with it. Originally, it wasn’t even on the album, and I brought it to my manager, Mr. Jim Vest, and it went from there. He loved it. It is very humbling.
I’m glad people like it, and the video of me on a Sunday evening at my aunts’ house, just pickin’ and singin’. We were cooking jambalaya, and my mom fussed as I walked out the door to at least put on a clean shirt, but I was in a hurry to get over there, and that video had over a million views on Facebook. I couldn’t believe it, Mama said, “You should have changed your shirt!” (laughs).
PC: “Turn the Jukebox Up Louder” is a really strong heartbreak song. Can you talk about the inspiration behind that song?
HM: This song was written by my Paw Paw, Diddy Wayne, the one that sang in the 70’s and 80’s and was actually recorded by Porter Wagoner.
It was about what was going on at that time in his life with my Maw Maw, and family; and playing music is a tough job. Late nights, sleeping late in the mornings, not home a lot, on the road and in the bars, it’s hard. His songs are from experiences from his life, let me just say that.
PC: “Where Has Country Gone” is one of the standout tracks on your Album. How important was it for you to honor traditional country music with that lyric on your debut album?
HM: Well that was the song that, before “Outlaw,” was really my number one pick. It’s very important to honor traditional country to me, because like me, I’m sure others are asking, “Where has Country gone?” All this pop music in the Country genre; I think of all of the greats just asking each other, “Where did it go? What happened?”
PC: What do you hope people take away from the “Outlaw Music Man” album after listening all the way through?
HM: To connect with just regular workin’, blue-collar people. I’m gonna sing the old, classic, traditional stuff that touches your soul and tells life stories, whether Nashville likes it or not. I have to be true to who I am and what I believe in. People that listen to traditional country music will understand this album, because it reaches back and pulls singers from long ago that made country music.
PC: You mention a lot of great outlaw and traditional artists through the Outlaw Album record. What would you hope Merle or George would say to you after listening to your record?
HM: I hope I would hear them say, “He’s bringing it back, boys!” I wrote another song that would go along with this called “Heaven’s Point of View.” It’s about what all the “greats” that are watching from heaven, and their point of view about country music today.
PC: What does it mean to you to receive 4 NACMIA awards in 4 different categories at such an early point in your career?
HM: I’m blessed. It’s pretty overwhelming. I’m very thankful and humbled. I’ve had so much help along the way. My family; being brought up around the love of music. My manager, Mr. Jim Vest, and PR: Dan Mitchell. Ms. Pat Cole, every little step along the way. Ms. Marie Hano, who saw me play in Livingston Parish and contacted Ms. Pat, who knew Mr. Jim. The Lord has had his hand on me, and I just follow his plan.
PC: What are your plans for 2019?
HM: To graduate from high school; I know that is my parents’ plan too! Also, I will be able to start touring more, to be able to go to other states. Also, to be able to get back to Nashville way more often, and get with Mr. Jim Vest, my manager, and get some things going. I also want to work more, pick up some more gigs, and to do some things with military families, Blue Star Mothers of LA. These are families that have someone in the service or families that have lost loved ones. If it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love, make music.
*All images courtesy of Hunter Morse Facebook Page*