updated 11/02/2012 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 11/02/2012 AT 2:20 PM ET
Country music has a new rising star whose boyish good looks are setting hearts aflutter. Oh, and he can sing pretty well, too.
Hunter Hayes had his unofficial coronation as country music’s next big thing Thursday at the Country Music Association Awards, winning Best New Artist and performing a spellbinding rendition of his first No. 1 country song, “Wanted,” on his trademark black piano.
Just 21, Hayes projects an irresistible innocence – he can still recall the songs he wrote in middle school, and he brought his parents with him to the CMAs. Still, he’s been performing for 19 years, so he knows a thing or two about projecting an image.
PEOPLE caught up with Hayes on Thursday to get a better idea of what makes him tick. Here are five things to know about the young heartthrob.