The buzz of Hunter Hayes rightfully permeated the Warner Nashville party held outdoors at the MGM Grand after the ACM Awards concluded. Warner Nashville president John Esposito was thrilled to hear that Hayes had been hanging out with Stevie Wonder until 2:30 in the morning. Not rehearsing, mind you, but working on a new track of Wonder’s that the Motown legend said had hit a dead end. Hayes, who idolizes Wonder, dropped in some guitar ideas and the two were squarely on their way to hitting high notes on a new collaborative tune.
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Not surprisingly, Esposito had to duck out of his own party — and Hayes was to blame. The 21-year-old guitarist-singer was performing with Keith Urban at the all-star jam session a few yards away from the label party.
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While its the stars, young and old, who spend most of their ACM party time posing for pictures with fans and radio station personnel — the Band Perry and Tim McGraw had that gig at the Big Machine Label Group post-ACM party — its the younger stars trying to make the most of Nashville’s invasion of Las Vegas.
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Two former contestants on NBC’s “The Voice,” RaeLynn, now a Big Machine/Republic act, and Angie Johnson, a Sony Nashville singer, were making the rounds at the ACMs and the parties. RaeLynn, artistically adopted by Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, was meeting-and-greeting at the Warners party; Johnson, whose debut EP comes out May 21, sang the national anthem at Saturday’s Party for a Cause, was interviewed at the Orleans Arena in front of 8,000 fans during the ACM telecast and was making the rounds backstage prior to the awards show.
“The ACMs provide a great ways for to get people invested in a new artist,” said Craig Campbell, a former Sony Nashville executive who co-manages Johnson with Vanessa Davis. “We had her involved in a bowling and archery events, which are great ways for her to meet the media, and on Friday she performed at a Sony Music event that was open to the public. You never know who you’re going to meet.”