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"I haven't actually done a lot of performances," the singer-songwriter told The Boot and other reporters at a media event just before he celebrated his first No. 1 single, "Wanted." "I enjoy talking with the kids and hanging out with them. When I do perform, I usually rely on the team at the hospital to give me direction as to what I should play. I sometimes do cover tunes, or they might tell me that someone is fan of my music, in which case I would sing one of my own songs."
Many country artists make time to reach out to the kids who are in hospitals, knowing they can make a difference in a young life when they do. Parents who have children at one of the many children's hospitals around the country will be quick to say how much a visit from someone can cheer up a child and make their day brighter if they're having a hard time. Darius Rucker recently visited Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, as did Randy Houser. Both were a hit with the kids for whom they played their tunes.
Hunter sees his job as one of a messenger of positive reinforcement. "I try to bring energy and joy to the room, give them a fun time that they'll remember. I want them to enjoy themselves and let go. It's the same kind of thing we do in our live shows, but much more specific."
Although the 21-year-old admits he sometimes experiences butterflies before such a visit, he understands the importance of being there for the kids. "I think I get nervous because I want to do so well that it is a release for the kids in addition to having a good time with them. You want to give them the best you can give them so they'll never forget it. I'm learning about it the more I do it. I really enjoy going."
Hunter believes that music can make a difference in someone's life. "It is an important thing for me to do; it is beautiful thing. Music is very powerful. It is more powerful than most people give it credit. Music is what I turn to in my worst times. Music is a powerful healing tool and I think it's a critical part of the equation to good health. Visiting with these kids is a perfect example of being able to reach out to them through my music."
Hunter will rejoin Carrie Underwood's Blown Away tour when the trek resumes Feb. 13 in Colorado Springs, Colo. See a list of his upcoming tour dates here.