Family and diplomacy don’t always fit in the same sentence, but the Hunt siblings have gone to tour with it. One recent stop was at Ohio Valley University, where Jessi took a few minutes before their show to explain the creative and collaborative glue of the group.
Seven brothers and sisters, seven songwriters. Mama and Papa Hunt — who respectively spread the merchandise table and manned the mics for the family band at Ohio Valley University — themselves musicians, passed melodies on to the rest of the family from an early age through lessons on violin and guitar.
Being a musician is a straightforward path for the siblings. As to why they do it, Jessi gets on stage with her brothers and sisters where “there’s something special, to create a sound together, singing songs that we’ve written…about our stories or our experiences, about places we’ve been, people we’ve met. It’s cool to reminisce in a musical fashion.”
Each of them have contributed songs to the album. Some songs are total group collaborations, while others are individually written and the songwriter often sings the lead. Jessi was one of the writers on “Ages,” for which she developed the chorus, and Josh chimed in with a verse melody. The songs by Jonathan, the pianist, tend to be the most challenging, says Jessi, because “he writes beautiful melodies, and we don’t want to ruin it by putting lyrics and words to it!” In “This is Love,” the song takes a piano break, “to let it breathe a little bit.” The song finishes out with piano as the foundation and the rest of the instruments and singers flood back in for the finale.
Before playing “Lifting the Sea,” Jessi shared the song’s backstory. “We wrote this song with dreams of traveling and taking our music to other continents and other nations, and this song reminds us of our trip to Haiti, and the friendships we’ve made there…it’s about feeling a little bit closer to places that are far away.”
Ohio Valley University is one of those places that are closer to home for the family. During an interlude, Jessi and her twin sister Jenni recounted the last time they had visited. The band was packing up to leave when they were led to an obscure room downstairs. In the darkness, they prayed and sang. “it was so powerful, worshipping together…The spirit met me, and I’ll never forget that night.” After the story the crowd joined the Hunts in singing “Holy, Holy” and “O, Holy Night” a cappella.
As for choosing which songs to include in the album or which songs to play on stage, it comes down to an enthusiastic vote — diplomacy at its finest. After their last song, chants of “One more! One more!” convinced the Hunts to get back on stage, closing out the night with the unreleased song “Be Naïve.”
Their album “Those Younger Days” was released in June of this year, and the siblings are working on a new album for 2016. A couple of other unreleased songs, “Request” and “Afar,” were played at the OVU concert. They keep busy with homemade video projects and writing songs while out on the road, the sights they see acting as a muse for their work, the tour of their past album inspiring the next.
You can find more info about The Hunts, including links to Instagram where they document their tour and YouTube with music videos, on their website. Their music is available on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.