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Coming from a long line of native-Australian country music artists such as Slim Dusty, Keith Urban and Sherrie Austin, newcomer Jedd Hughes has a bright future in country music.

Hughes’ father first exposed him to Slim Dusty’s Australian traditional country music and legendary American country artist Johnny Cash. His dad also gave Hughes his first guitar lessons. By the age of 10, Hughes was playing a custom-made De Gruchy acoustic guitar.

At 12, Hughes was chosen to represent Australia on a three-week tour of Europe, performing at the “International Music For Youth” festivals held in France, Belgium and Sweden. “My parents knew I was into music, but they didn’t really know how far I would take it,” Hughes says. “After that tour happened, I think they figured I was pretty serious about it.” They were right.

As a teenager, Hughes channeled his love for music by honing in on his guitar skills. “I practiced at least three hours a day, and on school holidays I would practice eight or nine hours a day, I just wanted to be good. I wanted different tones and different sounds.”

When Hughes graduated from high school, he attended South Plains College in Levelland, Texas because it offered a bluegrass music program. However, while he was there, he became interested in country music with a rock edge a la Buddy Miller.

Hughes also met Terry McBride, from McBride and the Ride while he was at South Plains. McBride convinced Hughes to move to Nashville so that the two could write music together. “We probably wrote 80 songs between April 2002 and March 2003,” Hughes says. Six weeks after moving to Music City, Hughes was chosen to be the lead guitarist in Patty Loveless’ band despite his lack of confidence. “I walked out of that audition thinking, ‘There is no way I’m going to get this gig because I just made a complete idiot of myself,’” he recalls.

Soon after, Hughes signed a record deal with MCA. The album titled Transcontinental is a blend of the traditional Australian country music Hughes loved as a child and the “rocking country” he learned about at a later age. He hopes his blend of roots-based country will appeal to a wide range of music fans. “I want to get this record to as many people as I can,” he says. “I hope I’ve made some music that will get inside somebody else and make them feel something.”

“Country music still excites me like I’m four years old,” he adds. “There have always been so many possibilities with country. Cash was doing what he was doing, and Merle was doing his own thing, too. There were all these different country artists, but it was always still country music. And country music is still cool.” / Issue 44 - September 2018
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