Walker Hayes Finds ‘Reason to Rhyme’
Raised in a uniquely blended ‘Brady Bunch‘-style household of four siblings and four step-siblings (he was the ninth), Walker Hayes says he has always been different. “My parents once caught me conducting Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony,” he confesses. Growing up, he also experienced a blend of interests, with half his friends involved in music and the other half in sports, while he participated in both.
Having earned a degree in general music with an emphasis on piano in just two years at Alabama’s Birmingham-Southern College, Walker then attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the summer of 2004, he headed to Nashville. When Autumn House, Senior Vice President of A&R (artists and repertoire) at Capitol Records heard him on a demo tape pitched to her for Keith Urban, she fell in love with his voice and his songwriting, bringing him to the immediate attention of Capitol President Mike Dungan. Walker was offered a record deal that evening, but the singer whose voice is as warm, confident and inviting as a Gulf Shore breeze made the rather surprising move of saying to Autumn, “I thought you had too many males on your roster,” to which she replied, “We do have a lot of male acts on our roster but not like you!”
Walker and Capitol made another bold move, putting his music in the hands of L.A.-based pop producer Marshall Altman, who has worked with, among others, Marc Broussard and Matt Nathanson. While his voice is breezy and sweet, his lyrics are clever and revealing without coming off heavy-handed.
Many country fans got their first glimpse of the boyishly handsome singer on the 2010 Country Throwdown tour. But sorry, ladies, he’s married — Walker and wife Laney first met when they appeared in a high-school production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors.’ They now have three children. The title of Walker’s debut album, ‘Reason to Rhyme,’ is, in fact, a tribute to his better half, for whom he wrote the first single, ‘Pants,’ which contains the not-so-subtle line, “she can wear the pants as long as I can take them off her.”
“I get off on finding new ways to tell my wife ‘I love you,'” he confesses.
Listen to ‘Pants’ below.