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Hunter Hayes Sometimes ‘Accidentally Channels’ Garth Brooks While Performing Live

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Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Hunter Hayes tells PEOPLE on the 50th annual CMA Awards red carpet that his love of fellow country musician Garth Brooks has affected his own performance routine.

The “Wanted” singer — who nabbed new artist of the year at the CMAs in 2012 — says, “I’m a big Garth fan, I always have been.”

“He is so much of why I like playing live, I accidentally channel him,” Hayes, 25, admits. The five-time CMAs attendee adds that he’s “excited” to see Brooks take the Bridgestone Arena stage.

Hayes also opened up about changes in the country music world since he first broke onto the scene, saying that he loves the increasing number of people who have “found this genre.”

Hunter Hayes arrives at the 50th annual CMA Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

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“I feel spoiled. I like grew up with it,” Hayes says. “I love how many people have found it and just how diverse it is . . . all that stuff, there’s so much here.”

He adds, “It’s a big house, it’s a big family.”