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What Happened When PEOPLE Spent the Day with Hunter Hayes

Hunter Hayes Tour: PEOPLE Photos
Hunter Hayes
Katie Kauss/PEOPLE.com

updated 08/22/2014 AT 07:45 PM EDT

originally published 08/22/2014 AT 06:45 PM EDT

What's a country singer to do when he's about to announce his Tattoo (Your Name) Tour? Get a tattoo, of course!

That's exactly what Hunter Hayes did Thursday night, mere hours before his big tour announcement on Today. True, it was a henna tattoo, but it's still pretty major – and PEOPLE was there for the whole three-hour adventure, getting a peek at the intricate design.

We arrived at the New York Palace hotel Thursday afternoon and were eager to see what 22-year-old Hayes – the reigning CMA new artist of the year – had planned for his ink.

Turns out, the design included names and representative symbols of all the states on his upcoming tour. There's a peach for Georgia, a fleur-de-lis for his home state of Louisiana, a block of cheese for Wisconsin – you get the picture. The top of the tattoo is lined with music notes and the quote "For the Love of Music."
What Happened When PEOPLE Spent the Day with Hunter Hayes| Country, Hunter Hayes

Katie Kauss / PEOPLE.com





Settling in for a long night with henna artist Zahra Virji, Hayes opened up about his first arena tour, which kicks off in Pennsylvania on Oct. 30.

"I've always wanted to play arenas," he told PEOPLE exclusively. "It's a brilliant sounding room and I think they're beautiful." After a nice chat while the ink set, we all parted ways – an early morning at Today was on the horizon!
What Happened When PEOPLE Spent the Day with Hunter Hayes| Country, Hunter Hayes

Brandon Campbell



On Friday, our alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. so we could get to Rockefeller Center in time for a sound check and little mingling with fans. Did we mention fans? There were lots of them, and Hayes is endlessly grateful for their support. "As you evolve as an artist and people accept you for new work as much as they accepted your old, it's a thrill," he told us.
What Happened When PEOPLE Spent the Day with Hunter Hayes| Country, Hunter Hayes

Katie Kauss / PEOPLE.com



Before his Today performance, Hayes paused to film a birthday message for a fan's friend, signed autographs and posed for countless selfies. "I've been asked to sign a few foreheads," he told us – seriously.
What Happened When PEOPLE Spent the Day with Hunter Hayes| Country, Hunter Hayes

Katie Kauss / PEOPLE.com



On Friday morning, we got to see the full effect of Hayes's henna tattoo – and made him promise to bring us along if he ever decided to get inked for real (he says he's thinking about it).
What Happened When PEOPLE Spent the Day with Hunter Hayes| Country, Hunter Hayes

Katie Kauss / PEOPLE.com



Following his Today performance, which included a guest spot doing the weather with Al Roker, Hayes met up with 100 fans to take pictures and sign even more autographs.
What Happened When PEOPLE Spent the Day with Hunter Hayes| Country, Hunter Hayes

Katie Kauss / PEOPLE.com



While the star's day continued with more interviews, he bid us farewell with the kind of smile one wears with true happiness, gratitude and lots of sleep. (We don't know how he does it!)
What Happened When PEOPLE Spent the Day with Hunter Hayes| Country, Hunter Hayes

Hunter Hayes

Katie Kauss / PEOPLE.com



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