Europe might not be the first place that comes to mind when someone thinks about hotbeds of country music.
But, according to Sam Williams, the fans there are great, have a lot of energy and love country music.
Williams, the Henry Countian who is making a name for himself in country music, recently returned from a two-week tour of Europe and also made his first appearance on stage at the Grand Ole Opry.
Things are certainly on the upswing for the 22-year-old Williams, who graduated from Henry County High School in 2015 and, not long ago, decided to give country music his best shot.
His success is the latest in the line of the Williams family dynasty in country. His father is longtime Henry County resident Hank Williams Jr. and his grandfather is the late Hank Williams. Both are icons in the country music world, and Sam is hopeful he can continue the line. But he wants to do it on his own.
“There’s nobody pulling strings for me in Nashville,” he said.
He was especially proud of his Grand Ole Opry performance on Oct. 9 at the Opry House, because “it felt deserved. I felt like I accomplished it on my own.”
It’s been a hectic six weeks for Williams. In addition to numerous performances, he appeared live on WSMV-TV (Channel 4) in Nashville’s morning program “Today in Nashville.”
Shortly after that, he left for Europe, opening for country star Cam, best known for her 2015 hit “Burning House,” which sold 1.2 million copies.
That was a big step for Williams, who said he had admired Cam for a long time and was thrilled to tour with her and see “how she really connects with the crowds.”
“The tour was truly incredible. Especially to have something that big so early on in my career,” he said.
He had never been overseas, so the trip itself was exciting as well as being able to perform.
London and Amsterdam were probably his favorite spots to visit, he said. He visited the Van Gogh Museum while in Amsterdam, and loved seeing the canals throughout the city.
As far as the performances, he said the crowds in England were surprisingly loud and really into the shows.
He shot a live video while performing the song “Weatherman” at a show in London.
He said the crowd in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was also full of some great energy.
Other cities on the tour included Paris, France; Sheffield and Manchester in England; and Hamburg and Berlin in Germany.
It was in Germany where Cam surprised him on stage by telling him the Grand Ole Opry had asked her to relay a message to him — that he was invited to perform on the Opry stage when they returned from Europe.
Williams did three songs at the Opry, and said it was a thrill to stand on the famed wooden circle on the stage. He wore a custom jacket during his performance and wore his grandfather’s hat.
It wasn’t that long ago that Williams wasn’t sure he wanted to dive into the country music world. After graduating from HCHS, he attended Belmont University in Nashville for a couple of years, taking classes in entertainment industry studies.
He had not even been in band while in high school, but had participated in some talent shows and felt he had the skills to make it.
“After a couple of years at Belmont, I decided to take music a little more seriously,” he said.
He got a publishing deal and is now in an artist development program with Get It Done Music Entertainment and Kobalt.
His approach to songwriting is to pour out things that are in his heart.
“It’s like going to therapy for me,” he said.
His family ties extend to his son, Tennyson, who’s almost 3 years old.
“He’s my everything,” Williams said, noting that his son planned to dress as Spider-Man for Halloween.
His parents, Hank Jr. and Mary Jane, haven’t really played a role in pushing his career, but “they’re definitely proud of me.”
His dad has so many varied interests that he’s stayed hands-off when it comes to Sam’s career.
“He’s getting ready for deer season,” Sam laughed.
As for what’s up next, Williams just returned from performing at the Louisiana State Fair last weekend, and plans to take a little time off to recuperate from the recent whirlwind. There are plans for him to record an album sometime next year, keeping alive that Williams “Family Tradition.”