Adam Hood never assumed he would play the Grand Ole Opry.
“I mean, it’s always your dream,” explains Hood, 47, during an interview with PEOPLE. “It’s always what you want to do. For anybody that’s an artist or a writer or anything that’s in that realm, it’s definitely the pinnacle. I just didn’t know that it was in our scope.”
Actually, the acclaimed singer/songwriter still can’t believe it.
“I think I am still processing it,” he explains of his Opry debut last month. “I honestly thought it would be a little bit more chaotic than it was. It was a pretty well-oiled machine! I mean, I was as nervous as you would’ve expected me to be, but after the sound check, I really relaxed.”
His composure continued through his two-song set in which Hood performed two original songs – “Way Too Long” off his 2014 album Welcome to the Big World and “Harder Stuff” off his latest record, Bad Days Better.
“I tried to pick out the songs that had the least amount of cuss words in them,” he laughs of the special night that had him playing on the same night as Opry members Darius Rucker, Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seely, Lauren Alaina and Dustin Lynch. “I had to watch myself.”
Granted, Hood had countless songs to pick from, as he has served as the writer for a slew of songs recorded by artists such as Miranda Lambert, Cody Jinks, Ashland Craft, Drake White, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Little Big Town.
“I’ve seen Little Big Town do ‘Front Porch Thing’ onstage at the Opry,” Hood remarks of the song he co-wrote alongside Chris Stapleton for the group’s platinum album, Tornado.
But these days and at this point in his career, Hood says he is enjoying keeping some more songs to himself, some of which have now found their way to his new album Bad Days Better, which peaked in the top 10 on the Americana albums chart.
“You can have so many expectations for what you want the record to be going into it, but then it’s always fascinating me what the record turns into as opposed to how it starts,” Hood says of his fifth studio album released in September. “But I just think we went deeper with this record.”
Collaborating once again with producer extraordinaire Brent Cobb, Hood eventually nailed the album concept down to just what he does best.
“I think in the past, I have approached albums by making them more like a songwriter’s record, which is cool and it’s fun, but this was more like a stylistic record,” says Hood, who recorded the entirety of the rootsy record at Capricorn Studios. “We tried to shoot for songs that had the lyrical content that is to be expected, but also stuff that had deep roots. I wanted it to be as musically representative of what I do as opposed to just lyrically representative.”
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And to do that, Hood found himself reflecting on his upbringing in Opelika, Alabama, where he started playing hometown shows as a 16-year-old, landing a weekly residency at a local restaurant playing songs by the likes of John Hiatt, Steve Warner, Hank Williams Jr, and Vince Gill.
“I wanted to be able to shed positive light on my upbringing and things like that,” explains Hood, who is said to have been discovered by Lambert after her van broke down, which led to a publishing deal in Nashville. “I think ‘the South’ gets a little bit of a bad rap sometimes. I know everybody points a finger at somebody else, but there’s a lot to be celebrated in Alabama, and there’s a lot to be proud of. It’s a product of my influence, so that’s what I really wanted to bring out without saying it. It’s really easy to piss people off these days.”
He draws in a deep breath.
“I’m not trying to tell you how you feel,” the father of three continues. “You are allowed to interpret this however you want to, but here’s how I’m saying it. That’s the beauty of being a songwriter.”