Evan Agostini, AP
"I was really nervous about writing the song," Hunter admits to The Boot. "I write songs because I love to write; I don't write for a purpose. Plus I was nervous about something that is such a big topic and issue. Quite frankly I didn't know much about it, and once they started telling me about (child hunger) in the United States, the thing that struck me the most is one in five kids in the U.S. don't know where their next meal is coming from."
Hunter joined with Barry Dean and Luke Laird to write "Here's Hope," a song that addresses the issue and offers a solution if people will get involved.
"We got together and started writing the song and it was a toss-up on which way to go because there were so many different thoughts on it," Hunter says. "I stumbled on a musical thing and Barry had this lyrical thing going. I didn't want anything really heavy and ConAgra wanted something hopeful.
"We didn't even have a title for awhile and we just kept throwing out words and playing that groove you hear and it just happened. It just poured out of us. We were all touched by the situation, and we felt like we became part of the campaign and not just songwriters. What we wanted to do was not just address the issue but show folks that there is a solution; that's the message we wanted in the song. I'm thrilled that the ACMs are going to be doing the Lifting Lives segment, and I'm very proud to be associated with it because of what they and ConAgra are doing to work toward ridding the U.S. of child hunger."
Little Big Town, along with the Clark County Children's Choir, will perform "Here's Hope" Sunday night. Karen Fairchild says they just heard the tune about a month ago, and they have been busy putting their own touch on it. Hunter is excited about that, saying it's always cool as a songwriter to hear someone else sing his song.
"I only sing songs that mean something to me, so to know that someone else sings a song I had a part in writing because they like the song too is a good feeling," Hunter says. "I got to meet Little Big Town for the first time in the studio and got to hear their rehearsal and rendition of what they are doing. I love it when an artist takes a song and makes it their own."
Kimberly Schlapman of Little Big Town is on the board of both the Academy of Country Music and Lifting Lives. She is very passionate about the charity work they are doing and together with the group has been trying to figure out a way for them to be involved.
"When they approached us about singing this on the show, we thought this was our opportunity," says Karen. "ConAgra has partnered to make a bigger deal out of it and to make people take action during this year. Their cause is to end childhood hunger and we are so happy to be a part of this beautiful moment."
Karen says the group has been in the studio evaluating the song and trying to see how they could make it a moving moment in the show and really cause people to do something instead of just watch them sing and then forget all about the campaign.
"I think we have something that's going to be special for everyone," she says. "We've worked closely with the music director on what part the kids can play in all this, and we are excited about singing with the Clark County Children's Choir."
Karen admits that she didn't know the extent of child hunger in America either.
"You always think hunger is a world issue but that it couldn't happen here at home. As a mom, it's devastating to think about a child not knowing where their next meal is coming from. It shouldn't be happening here -- we are way too rich a nation and too fortunate a nation to allow that to be happening. I'm not saying we're all rich, but as a nation we have a lot going for us and it seems like this is something we could take care of. We want to help bring awareness during the song to the whole issue."
"Here's Hope" has been recorded by three different artists in three genres of music. Jewel does the country version; Owl City recorded the pop sound and Jay Sean delivers the hip-hop/R&B version. The purpose of the campaign is to motivate consumers to donate five million meals this school year to Feeding America. Consumers who want to participate can purchase specially marked packages of select ConAgra Foods brands and then visit www.ChildHungerEndsHere.com to enter the eight-digit code found on participating product packages. For each code entered through August 2012, the equivalent of one meal will be donated to Feeding America. In return for entering a code from specially marked packages, consumers can download their favorite version of "Here's Hope." Fans who want to purchase the song can also do so via the website.
Hunter is pleased that three different artists have recorded his song.
"It's a message that transcends genres and goes to the heart of music, which is that it is the universal language," Hunter says. "I love how they each have their own interpretation of the song and made it their own."
Hunter is looking forward to tomorrow's ACM Awards. He's been to one other ACM ceremony, but it was back when he was a kid.
"I remember how great the show was and how cool it was to see all the things I had watched on TV for years," the singer says. "This year it is so much more, because not only do I get to be in the presence of all these people I respect and look up to, but I'm nominated for the New Artist award, which I can't believe. And I get to introduce Little Big Town singing my song, which is really cool."
The 47th annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be broadcast live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday night at 8PM EST on CBS.
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