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Ryan Hurd was happy writing hits three years ago for country superstars like Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line – and a Grammy-nominated “Lonely Tonight” for Blake Shelton and Ashley Monroe. Now, he’s on the cusp of joining them as performing star in his own right.

But convincing him to make the leap from writer to performer – not exactly an unusual track for country artists in recent years – paid off not only for Hurd, but WME Nashville agent Joey Lee. The part that was unusual was Hurd’s initial resistance to the idea.


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Photo: Frances Sealy/ConcertLivewire.com

Ryan Hurd

“I hadn’t seen many artists at the time that made me say ‘holy shit!’” Lee told Pollstar. “Then I saw Ryan at a company showcase thing while he was writing with Universal Publishing and it was ‘holy shit!’ I told him, ‘I want to be your guy,’ but Ryan said he didn’t want to be a performer.

“Others were telling him, ‘You need to perform, and you need to tell these stories.’ It was a dogfight after that. Everyone thought he was that good. I signed him and shortly, he got his record deal with Sony,” Lee continued.

“There was a strategic plan and he went out and did shows with The Cadillac Three, Thomas Rhett, Chase Rice and a leg with Florida Georgia Line. It shows you the respect others have for him by putting them on their shows and being champions for him.”


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Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Kicker Country Stampede

Ryan Hurd

Hurd hit the road hard in 2016, with a CMT tour, and festival appearances including Faster Horses, Country LakeShake, Tortuga and others. It’s been more of the same in 2017, including tours with Rhett, Kelsea Ballerini and Maren Morris.

Hurd and Morris have another date coming up. The pair, who met when they were put together as a writing team and penned McGraw’s “Last Turn Home,” are engaged and expected to marry in the spring after a European tour.