Interview with Hayley McKay

Today we’re delighted to feature the wonderful Hayley McKay for the first time on Belles and Gals. It’s been a crazy few months for the singer songwriter (even without Covid-19!), so we caught up with Hayley to talk all things music!

Hi Hayley, It’s great to feature you on Belles and Gals for the first time. To start, could you describe your sound to someone who hasn’t heard you before.

Thank you for inviting me! My music has a fresh British Soulful pop/country sound. I like singers who sing with emotion who are good storytellers. I guess that’s why I love country so much! I love most types of music and have sang most styles and have created my own style stemmed from many influences!

You recently had a great deal of success with your hit single ‘Thinking About Last Night’. Can you give us an insight into how the song came about.

I’ve been co writing with award winning Nashville writer Bill DiLuigi, and he sent me a track which he and Mary Sarah had written. As soon as I heard it I loved it and wanted to do my own version with a British spin on it.

The song was produced by David Neil Crabtree and John P Taylor, and my band played on the track featuring my friend Ian Sharpe who played banjo.

It is such a feel good song, and that is what we need right now!

I’m so pleased with the response it has achieved so far -particularly in Ireland and Australia!

Tell us about your career so far and name a couple of highlight moments!

My career has been eventful so far for sure! My roots go back to musical theatre having performed as a young Marylin Monroe at the age if 9 in the West End’s Her Majesty’s Theatre. When I was 13 my Grandad and Uncle bought me a guitar and I would always sing at parties and pretty much everywhere!

I took a year out after college and won a National Talent competition singing which funded me to study at BIMM Brighton Institute of Modern Music. A good friend, Phil Ellis, who is sadly no longer with us who championed up and coming talent recommended an Artist Development Course in London at Access to Music. I studied there for a year after BIMM and Jess Glynne was amongst my peers. Ed Sheeran had gone there too but I think he was the year before me.

After London I moved back up North and started a band. One of my early career highlights included singing solo at Newcastle City Hall for Sunday For Sammy featuring acts including Mark Knopkler and Lindisfarne. I sang Over the Rainbow with a harpist and a choir. Shortly after, I was asked to sing Amazing Grace on the film Harrigan which is set in the North East featuring Steven Tomkinson. Since then I have gone onto supporting Tom Jones, Scouting for girls, Martha Reeves and Albert Lee, as well as performing at festivals including Glastonbury, Latitude, Cornbury and last year was the featured artist at The Americana festival at The Sage, Gateshead.

Some of my career highlights include performing out in Nashville (after being invited out there after being spotted on Youtube!), Performing on RTE, The Today Show (Ireland’s biggest daytime TV show), and being invited to Bob Harris house to record a live video for The Whispering Bob sessions. My recent single has reached no 1 in the Ignition Country charts, has been voted top 3 best new singles in Ireland, top 10 in the Indie Valley fm charts Australia and has garnered BBC Introducing support. This has all been a recent highlight too!

Which artists have influenced you in your career, and if you could duet with any artist in the world, who would it be?

I’d like to duet with Annie Lennox, Dolly Parton and Barbera Streisand! Stevie Wonder would be awesome too. I’d like to be invited up on stage with Bruce Springsteen-that would be soooo fun. One of my influences is Singer Songwriter Amy MacDonald. I love her album Mr Rock n Roll.

And if you could play any venue, what would be your first choice.

Grand Ole Opry

To finish, tell us about your plans going forward in 2020.

I’m releasing new music this year, and I’m currently co writing with Bill DiLuigi which is exciting. I’ve also been co writing with Phil Caffrey and Hattie Murdoch. I’m looking forward to performing at C2C London and The British Country Festival next year as well as other exciting things in the pipeline.

I’ve been doing virtual streamed gigs online to try and raise money for SaveOurVenues, keeping grassroots music venues alive as it is super important!


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