Sam Hunt performed two songs to a sold-out crowd Tuesday night (April 12) at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena for the sixth annual All for the Hall benefit concert, which raised funds for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Dressed in black pants, a white T-shirt and jacket and red baseball cap, Hunt took the stage to screams for a performance of his hit "House Party." While he had the audience on their feet for his energetic song, things slowed down as he explained the story behind choosing his next song: Merle Haggard's "The Way I Am."

"It's good to be back in town," he remarked. "I have to tell you the story behind this next song. Sometimes I struggle with some of the things that come along with having success as a country artist and the obligations that come with it. The other night I was in that kind of a mood and I was missing being able to go home and go fishing, or go home and go turkey hunting, or go home and see my folks back in Georgia. I started playing some old country songs, back in the little bathroom in my house where I write. I started playing this old Merle Haggard song called 'The Way I Am.'"

In that moment, Hunt decided that was the song he wanted to play during his set for All for the Hall. This was the night before Haggard died. The next day, April 6, 2016, Hunt was in a co-write when the news broke that the Hag had passed away.

"It sent chills up my spine. It gave me this really eerie feeling," Hunt recalled. "It was a sad day for country music, but it made me realize how grateful I am to be able to do what I’m doing. It made me realize how grateful I am for Merle Haggard, all these boys on stage behind me and all the people who have come before me in country music who have paved this road for me."

Hunt has shared his gratitude before for the legends that have come before him. In February, he played at the Ryman Auditorium and expressed his love for traditional country artists like Haggard and Waylon Jennings, explaining the difficulties he faced after crafting his sound before he sang Jennings’ poignant "Belle of the Ball."

"I realized I could either try to sound like Waylon Jennings or be like Waylon Jennings, but I couldn’t do both," Hunt said.

Haggard passed away last week at the age of 79 after months of health problems.

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