Hazi Drops Emotive Rendition of “Rocky Top”

Last week, rising Knoxville artist Hazi dropped his soulful live cover of the Osborne Brothers’ iconic bluegrass single, “Rocky Top.” The recording and its accompanying video, which Hazi and his friends captured live around a campfire in Knoxville, Tennessee, is the 23-year-old singer’s third release this year, following “Blues Turn Black” and “Road to Jericho.” 

In the clip, Hazi performs his revamp behind a crackling fire pit and plumes of smoke. He starts with a finger-picking vamp before softly crooning the famous first verse. From there, his performance is an emotional journey. At times, Hazi is thrumming and belting, then moments later he is picking and softly lilting. Lyric by lyric, he breathes new life into the song. As amazing as it sounds, the transcendent performance was entirely impromptu. 

“I showed my friends [the song],” Hazi tells Raised Rowdy. “And it just so happened that my friend Bill, who’s a photographer/videographer, had his camera, and I had my sound equipment.” 

Hazi and his friend got the recording in one take. But the singer’s connection to the song started much earlier than that night. 

Born and raised in Knoxville, Hazi grew up within earshot of the University of Tennessee Volunteers’ marching band playing “Rocky Top” at every home game. Beyond its status as the Vols’ fight song, the title has strong residence in Tennessean’s hearts. For Hazi, it represents his love for the state. 

“I was walking around close to [UT] campus,” he says. “And I was just singing ‘Rocky Top’ to myself, but singing it real slow. I thought, you know, it’s such a beautiful song, and it would be nice to hear it slowed down. I wondered what it would sound like if it was felt, rather than just heard.”

The final product couldn’t be better. Hazi’s live rendering should be marked as the definitive modern version of “Rocky Top,” and it is sure to resonate with fans of good music everywhere, regardless of their native state (or college football allegiance). 

Hear it below:


Share this post