“Garth [Brooks] is one of my earliest and thus probably most profound influences,” Hayes told Robin Roberts in an interview for the ABC News special, “Countdown to the CMA Awards: 15 Songs That Changed Country Music.”
His dream, Hayes said, would be that “somebody, someday” would go to one of his concerts and be reminded of Garth Brooks.
“If they would say that, I would pass out,” he said.
That’s really saying something, because at just 23 years old, Hayes is already a four-time Grammy-nominated music prodigy.
The singer, who hails from a small Louisiana town, plays 30 instruments. When he was just 6 years old, he had a small part in Robert Duvall's movie, “The Apostle,” where he jammed on an accordion.
Hayes became a household country music name when he opened for Taylor Swift on tour. His debut, self-titled album, which was released in 2010, went double platinum, and he released his third album this year.
Hayes writes several of his own songs, but he said listening to Brooks' music is like being with an old friend.
“[Garth Brooks makes] songs that put you in a moment, that tell a story,” he said. “They're like your best friends, because they're the only thing that really know ... and then know exactly what to do, either to make you feel better, to celebrate with you to just talk it out.”
It’s not just Brooks’ music. Hayes said the country music icon’s high-energy performances are unlike any other and he wants to give his fans the same incredible concert experience. Hayes is currently in the middle of headlining his own “Tattoo Your Name” tour.
“At the end of the night, I want to make sure that I can get back on the bus and know that I gave them everything I had ... that was the show that I wanted to put on, no bars, no fences,” Hayes said, making a nod to Brooks’ 1990 album, “No Fences.”
“[Brooks is] an entertainer and he’s real. He is, to me, the definition of laying it all out there,” Hayes added. “I love that. I want to do that. I want to have that. ... He’s so relatable because he is who he is on stage, and he’s not afraid to show who he is on stage.”