CONSHOHOCKEN — Who doesn't love a Conshy-kid-makes-good story?
Fans of Indie Country Star and Conshohocken native Luanne Hunt will be pleased to know that Hunt has just been nominated for two Josie Awards for Album of the Year for her latest album, “Backroads, Bottles & Blues,” and Female Traditional Country Song of the Year, for “The Rhythm”.
Hunt will have plenty of time to relish the thrill of being nominated because she won't find out if she’s won the top prize in her categories until Sept. 21, when The Josie Awards ceremony takes place in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
A press release described the annual event as a star-studded extravaganza that draws music artists, songwriters and industry execs from around the globe.
“To be nominated in two categories for a Josie Award is truly the honor of a lifetime,” said Hunt. “Opportunities for Indie artists to be recognized in such a major way are few and far between, so I am extremely grateful that my CD and song were chosen out of thousands of submissions.”
According to organization's Tina Passantino, The Josie Awards is the largest and most prestigious independent awards show in the world.
“After a review of 23,025 submissions, Luanne was selected,” said Passantino. “We are thrilled and proud to have her aboard.”
In addition to the nominations, Hunt also just won two American Songwriting Awards and a World Songwriting Award.
"My 2018 CD, 'Backroads, Bottles & Blues,' has also been named Contemporary Country CD of the Year by the National Traditional Country Music Association. I scored two, No. 1 hits from the project on major Indie charts with, 'The Rhythm' and 'Lightning In A Bottle,’ '" Hunt added.
Many may remember that Hunt regards her album “Mary Wood to Hollywood” as a “retrospective on my time growing up in Conshy. The lead track, ‘Pleasant Valley,’ is filled with imagery about the magic of Conshy, such as the Italian bakeries, the cheesesteak shops, football games at the “A field,” train whistles. I count myself so fortunate to have been born and raised in such a charming place with all of these wonderful offerings,” noted Hunt, who now lives in California but pays frequent visits back to her hometown. “They provided me with the best memories of growing up in a small, East Coast town.”
As many locals are aware, Mary Wood is a park on East Fifth Avenue in Conshohocken.
“I played there as a kid,” explained the Archbishop Kennedy High School grad.
“I recorded the acoustic version of "Mary Wood to Hollywood" a few years ago and am currently working on a fully-produced version that I hope to release in 2020. The acoustic project is available on my website, www.luannehunt.com,” said Hunt, who was awarded the Classic Country CD of the Year Award 2017 for her double album, “Songs from the Valley/The Heart of It All,” by the National Traditional Country Music Association’s (NTCMA) Rural Roots Music Commission.
“As an independent artist, it is rare to be recognized at all, let alone by an organization as prestigious as NTCMA,” said Hunt, who also earned a CD of the Year Award in 2016 from NTCMA. “I am beyond honored by this award and count it among one of my greatest achievements.”
Hunt is an Independent Superstars Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, another in her ongoing series of honors.
“It was an incredible honor to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, alongside Marty Stuart, Kitty Wells, Charlie Price, George Jones, Patsy Cline and so many other country legends,” Hunt said. “Artists are chosen for their lifetime contributions to the recording industry.”
While growing up in Conshohocken, Hunt said she never exhibited much of an indication of the musical talent that would one day be defining her professional life.
“I was even rejected for choir in grade school and only wound up getting in because I begged the choir teacher for days on end,” she admitted.
“Still, despite my seeming lack of singing talent, my life was filled with music and I spent countless hours listening to artists like James Taylor, Carly Simon, Bread, John Denver and the Beatles. I also was very influenced by the singing nuns, who played the most beautiful music during what were referred to as the ‘folk masses’ back in the day. Their songs really inspired me to want to be a professional singer when I grew up.”
Hunt admitted she is truly a “folk rocker at heart,” having discovered country music in the ’80s “when rock music began taking a strange turn, in my opinion. During that time, there were so many great country artists emerging on the scene — Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, George Strait, Pam Tillis, Mary Chapin Carpenter. Their songs were so catchy and well-crafted, which made me fall in love with the genre. Once I was hooked, I began to delve into country music’s past and became a fan of everyone from Buck Owens and Johnny Cash to Hank Williams and Patsy Cline.”
Ironically, Hunt eventually met one of Cline’s songwriters, Lawton Jiles, who ultimately penned her Top 10 hit, “Let the Teardrops Fall.”
“We became very good friends and in 2008, he asked me to record a Christmas tune that Patsy had asked him and his songwriting partner, Buster Beam, to write for her titled ‘Christmas Without You.’ Patsy’s label had asked Lawton and Buster to change the lyrics to something non-seasonal and the song became ‘How Can I Face Tomorrow?’ It didn’t do very well after they released it and Lawton told me that Patsy was heartbroken she didn’t get to give her fans a Christmas song,” Hunt explained. “So all these years later, I wound up recording the tune the way it was originally written and have had great success with it.”
In 2015, Sweden’s largest daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter, listed the tune among its Top 25 Christmas Songs of All-Time.
“It was a tremendous honor, as I was the only Indie artist on the list,” Hunt recalled, “alongside Merle Haggard, Otis Redding, Mariah Carey and other global superstars.”
"Backroads, Bottles and Blues," Hunt’s 14th studio album, has been racking up some uncommon accolades since its release, like this one from a Jamsphere Magazine critic: “One listen to Luanne Hunt and you won't be able to take Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood seriously anymore”