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Hunter Hayes, 'Invisible' Grammy performance has him nervous but 'stoked'

Hunter Hayes, 'Invisible' Grammy performance has him nervous but 'stoked'

By Stephen L. Betts. CREATED Jan 24, 2014

At 22, Hunter Hayes is already an old pro when it comes to performing. Before his age even reached double digits, he'd been in a film with Oscar winner Robert Duvall ("The Apostle") and played at the White House. But the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist admits he's a bundle of nerves when it comes to one thing he'll be doing very soon. He's going to debut his emotionally charged new single, "Invisible," on Sunday night's live Grammy telecast. The song's subject matter, bullying, is something even he can relate to, taking him right back to his high-school years.

"To me it's also just about being misunderstood," Hunter tells Entertainment Tonight's Nancy O'Dell. "Just me being in high school, just the smallest scale I know compared to a lot of stories that I've heard, a lot of people that I've met ... yes, I was a total geek, I was a total nerd, and you know, I still am, and I'm proud of that. But it took me a while to realize that it's OK to be proud of that, right? Because in that time and period of my life, if you didn't fit in, what else was there? Fortunately for me I had incredible parents, I had an incredible support system, musicians around me, and that showed me that there was hope -- that there was maybe something else I could look forward to." (Watch the full interview below.)

What will make this particular performance more nerve-wracking isn't that it's TV, or even the fact that the audience will consist of hundreds of his music-industry peers. It's that he's just going to be singing and not playing guitar (or any of the other 30-odd instruments he can play), allowing him to focus on the song's powerful and important message.

"This is the first time I'm really going to perform a song without an instrument ... which is a very uncomfortable thing for me," he admits. "I want to know that I've got nothing in my mind but singing this song. Good lord willing somebody hears this song and it means something to somebody. Somebody. One person. I'll be like, stoked -- that's what I'm hoping for I guess. ... I'm incredibly fearful about how incredibly emotional this song makes me."

Hunter is nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance for "I Want Crazy." Tune in to the Grammy Awards, airing live from Los Angeles on Sunday at 7:00 PM ET on CBS.