Since moving to Nashville from Shueyville, Iowa (population 600) twelve years ago Hailey has become one of the city’s most respected songwriters. Working for music company Carnival Music ( founded by Frank Liddell and Travis Hill ) she has had cuts by the likes of Martina McBride, Little Big Town and Alan Jackson and she put out her own debut album “Black Sheep” in 2015.
And the great news is that she’s back with her first new music in four years, having released several tracks recently ahead of her upcoming sophomore album “The Dream” due for release later this year. Check out her most recent single “The Days” which is a poignant write looking at how quickly time passes and stressing the importance of relishing every moment…
Taking of time, what better time to ask Hailey a few questions about her career to date and her next album? And that’s exactly what I did, I hope you enjoy the read and thanks to Hailey for her interesting, insightful replies!
1. LH I love finding out where my interviewees are while they are replying to my questions in order to set the scene, so let’s start off with that one!
HW It’s a beautiful day in East Nashville and I’m sitting in my backyard with a homebrew & my chickens 🙂
2. LH Although you were a huge fan of country music while growing up, I gather you are not from a particularly musical family….when did you start to sing/play/write yourself and which artists in particular inspired you to do so?
HW The Dixie Chicks made a huge impression on me as a kid growing up on country radio in Iowa… I also loved Shania, Alanis Morisette, Pink, Trisha Yearwood… all these powerful females who had a point of view and something to say and used music as their vehicle for it… it made me pick up a guitar and want to do the same.
3. LH You relocated from your tiny hometown in Iowa to Nashville, initially to study at Belmont… to me that sounds like it could have been pretty terrifying and/or daunting… how easy was it for you to make that transition?
HW I think it was more daunting for my mother than for me haha. I moved down here at 17 and didn’t know a soul.. Being the oldest of six, my mom was really nervous about me being that far away so she found Belmont. I was pretty naive yet hell bent on moving here no matter what, so looking back now it’s probably good I had school as a safety net.
4.LH And you have made Nashville your home now… how supportive have you found the songwriting community, especially the team at Carnival Music where you have a publishing deal?
HW Carnival has been my musical lighthouse all these years… it’s comforting to know I have a home there that embraces me and encourages me to create simply for the sake of doing so, and regardless of radio and/or commercial trends. The creative community in Nashville is also pretty amazing — getting to write songs and talk about feelings all day every day, we all know each other pretty intimately… I refer to it as “group therapy” to my friends outside of the industry who ask what it’s like. We’re all rooting for each other both professionally and personally and it’s just good to know we all got each others backs.
5 .LH The music industry is notoriously tough… your debut album “Black Sheep” received incredible reviews and resulted in you first cut (“Low All Afternoon” by none other than Martina, not a bad start!!) but two years later, to quote you on twitter, you were “feeling broken hearted with Nashville” . But being a songwriter you poured your heart out in the incredibly moving song “Ten Year Town” …..did that help lay your demons to rest?
I was feeling brokenhearted. I began to take responsibility for it though and came to realize if I was always looking outward for Nashville to define my happiness, I would probably never be happy. I think comparison truly is the thief of all joy, and it can’t be a driving force behind creativity. Whenever I start to feel it creep in, I try to tune it out to the best of my ability and focus solely on myself and making sure I’m performing better than I was yesterday.
6. LH And you’ve released more new music recently…”The Days” and “Red Wine and Blue” are also tasters from your next album !The Dream” due out later this year. Can we expect the same mix of ballsy female empowerment songs and heartbreaking ballads that you gave us on your debut album?
HW Yes! I think I’ve grown up a little bit and you can hear that. I’ve been told that I appear more vulnerable on this new record, which is unintentional but something I’m proud of. Sometimes I think the most “ballsy” thing one can do is lower their guard and let people in… I want listeners to find that transparency and honesty in my music – we’re all in this journey together.
7. LH I’ve peeked at the track listing and once again you have collaborated with some of Nashville’s top writers. What have you learnt over the years from co-writing with the likes of Matraca Berg, Brandy Clark, Hillary Lindsey, Jessie Jo Dillon and Nicolle Galyon (I’ve picked out all the females on purpose ha ha!!).
HW Be yourself and be real. Own who you are and don’t apologize for it. I feel privileged to get to work with them on a regular basis – gender aside, in my opinion they are some of the finest songwriters, period.
8 LH As on your debut album there’s some solo writes I see… are there some subject matters that are just too personal for a cowrite, or do those songs just pour out of you and naturally don’t need a helping hand, so to speak?
HW Not really… echoing what I mentioned earlier, I feel like as songwriters we are constantly pouring our emotions onto each other… so we talk intimately about love, heartbreak, loss, regret, etc… and it’s nice to have that person in the room who knows how you feel and can relate. I do enjoy writing by myself though… there’s no greater feeling than finishing and being proud of a song that you wrote alone.
9.LH Looking at your tour schedule you’ve a busy time ahead! Going out on tour with Lori McKenna, Maren Morris (another co-writer I gather?) Brent Cobb and Little Big Town must be a great way to get your music heard and have a lot of fun?
HW Touring is great – I’m excited to get back out there.. I’ve been holed up in Nashville for the last year making this record so I’m excited about getting out and getting to share it with fans.
10. LH Are there plans for any solo dates when the album is out ( if you have time!) and in particular how about a visit to the UK at some point?
HW Nothing as of yet – and yes I definitely want to get to the UK asap! It’s been on my bucket list for a long time … hoping to make it happen very soon.
Of course we will keep you updated with any album/tour news from Hailey and you can find out more via haileywhitters.com which includes links to her socials.
Interview conducted by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)