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JT Hodges, the country newcomer behind the song “Hunt You Down,” is contending against Brantley Gilbert, Hunter Hayes, David Nail, Jerrod Niemann, Justin Moore, Scotty McCreery and Thompson Square as a semifinalist for the Academy of Country Music’s fan-voted New Artist of the Year trophy. While some of the other nominees have had considerable success in the way of radio airplay or album sales, JT admits he is an underdog in the competition, and is mounting a campaign he hopes will land his name among the final three finalists when the category is narrowed.
“I felt like I was getting punked, to be honest. I was shocked," he told CountryWeekly.com of his reaction to the ACM nomination. "I’ve only had one song on the charts, but there was a lot that went on last year, a lot of cool things I got to do. I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s the academy—it’s your peers. It’s cool to be thought of in a light like that. It makes me excited about the future.” JT toured with Toby Keith and Eric Church in 2011, and is gearing up to release his debut album.
As part of his campaign for the ACM nod, JT has filmed two fan videos, the first being an intimate performance of his new single, “Goodbyes Made You Mine.” “We made the video literally in 15 minutes in my friend [and video director] Marcel’s garage," JT reveals. "He turned on his car lights behind me, put a camera in my face and I filmed the song in one take.” He says there are plans to film an official video for the song soon.
While the first video shows off JT’s musical prowess, a second clip shows off his sense of humor. “There are a lot of people who don’t know who I am," JT admits, "yet I have an ACM nod, so a part of me thought that I need to make fun of myself a little bit and make fun of the fact that people don’t really know who I am yet.” The comical sketch, filmed at Nashville bar Brewhouse West, finds JT dealing with every newcomer’s nightmare—an agitator who has no idea who he is. “There are only like two people in the bar,” JT explains of the video's plot, “and I’m performing ‘Hunt You Down,’ but they think I’m a guy named JT Rogers, not JT Hodges, and they think I’m covering this guy’s song.”
He’s quick to thank his fans who have begun voting for him in the competition. “They’ve been voting every day, they’ve been re-tweeting and sending facebook posts. These videos just poke fun and play around with the fact that I’m the underdog. I figure it’s a good way to show my personality and it shows a little humility. I wish the best for everyone, I just wish more best for me," he says with a chuckle.
Voting for the ACM New Artist of the Year kicked off on Jan. 16 and runs through noon ET on Monday, Jan. 30. To vote, visit gactv.com/acm . The Academy of Country Music Awards airs live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 1, on CBS.