One of Bailey Hefley’s first memories was telling her mother that she wanted to be a country singer as a three-year-old. She took the stage for the first time, singing Shirley Temple’s “Baby Take a Bow”, at her kindergarten talent show. As a teen, she was ready to begin fulfilling her dream of country stardom. What makes her journey so remarkable is shortly after her singing debut, she began having debilitating seizures. When she outgrew the seizures at age 13, she remembers “feeling awake and alive” for the first time.
Loved how you knew at age three you wanted to be a country singer. Which country singer was your mom’s favorite when you were growing up?
We listened to a lot of Shania Twain growing up. I would say that was probably her favorite. We listened to everyone though, and the local country station KSSN 96 was pretty much always on in her car. She and my dad made sure they took me to lots of concerts so I could watch the singers. My mom would say things like “make sure you are watching and learning!” She and my dad have always cared so much about whatever I was passionate about and been supportive. I am so thankful for them.
Which fellow up-and-coming artists from Arkansas would you recommend we add to our playlists?
I love me some Matt Stell!! His mom actually bought a horse from my mom, and Matt was really good to me years ago when I was just starting out and had me open for him and his band in Little Rock — I’ll never forget that. The horse they bought was really special to us because he is my mom’s childhood barrel horse’s grandson. We named him Tuffy after her. Kelsey Lamb is amazing too, and we actually went to the same school growing up.
A favorite memory from performing at White Water Tavern, the dive bar in Little Rock?
I had the best dad in the world who I would beg to take me there after my brother’s little league games that were near the bar, and I still can’t believe I was able to talk him into that. I loved looking out into the audience and seeing my little brother in his dirty uniform half asleep at 11pm on a school night, and dad, and usually mom too, there cheering me on. However, my favorite memory was when my dad and mom got up to sing harmonies on “Delta Dawn” with me one night.
Your first vocal coach trained you with Southern gospel. What was your favorite song to sing with your coach?
“His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” was definitely my favorite song that I learned.
Which country artists have had the most influence on the lyrics you write?
Dealing with and overcoming health issues. “I’d spent years observing, taking everything in, and longing for the day I would feel like myself again.” I wanted to tell you how that quote touched my heart. My younger daughter was diagnosed at 2 ½ with a life-threatening disease. Both of you focused on your strengths at your weakest and that alone is amazing to a parent. Was there a song that you would listen to as you dealt with the seizures?
I feel honored to have reached you in that way. That time was such a blur for me, because I was so heavily medicated, but I do remember when I was younger feeling really moved by the Trace Adkins song, “You’re Gonna Miss This.” The song came out after I was off the medication, but it really impacted me in a time when I felt stuck in the story of the person all my peers knew who wasn’t really “me” anymore — just a person of the past who had been on a lot of medication to suppress seizures. I felt ready to move to the next phase in life, and have a fresh start and that song made me reconsider and realize I only was going to do high school once and to stop overthinking what people saw me as and if they would allow me to change and to just be myself and live in the moment.
How did you get into competitive barrel racing?
My mom was a barrel racer growing up, and she knew when we moved out on the farm she wanted to give my sister and I chance to do it too. I started riding when I was 9 and by high school we were at a barrel race almost every weekend.
Writing “+1” with Ava Suppelsa, Jamie O’Neal, and Steven Martinez. You said you felt it a favorite before you even got to the second verse. How did the co-write start, was it a lyric, a melody, or something else?
I absolutely did!! It all started with a story. I walked into the write gushing over a guy I was crushing on, and Ava Suppelsa pulled out her phone to scroll through her hook ideas and said, “well I have this title idea, +1..” I immediately saw the whole song and said, okay I feel like we need to start off saying something about being completely bored on a lot of dates with the wrong guys and just wanting to go home. Before I could even finish my thought, Ava picked up her guitar and sang “been on a lotta dates felt a lot of nothing just staring at another face wanting to feel something,” and I was in love with the song right then.
“… putting myself back in that memory of what I wrote the song about…” How difficult is it to sing the very personal lyrics you write?
Not difficult at all. That’s the most beautiful thing about all of this to me. The fact that I can turn a feeling into a song that hopefully even one person will relate to is the reason I do this. I live to sing the songs I write. I will say, it’s funny being in a great mood and then having to sink into the feeling of the song’s origin. I sometimes will go through old photos before I start singing in the studio to remind myself why I wrote the song.
Your “Dust on a Diamond” video premiered on CMT.
You released the reimagined “Dust on a Diamond (20 Mix)”.
What message do you hope fans take away from the song?
Bailey Hefley Offers Hope in "Dust on a Diamond"
Are you feeling broken from a breakup? Did you mistake love for lying? Bailey Hefley has been there. And now she's…
I am so thankful for CMT and their support. I hope that fans will realize they are good enough and their past does not define them. I wrote the song when I was feeling lost after losing a guy, and it helped me heal — that’s what I hope the song can do for others.
Singing “We Are The World” with your artist friends. How did you decide to cover this song during the quarantine?
Renee Bell is on my team, and we are very close. She called me one morning during week 2 of the nationwide quarantine, and mentioned that I should go listen to the song for some solace. I had been feeling fearful for the heightened level uncertainties that were thrust upon us all, and I loved the song. It wasn’t my first time hearing it, but it definitely hit differently, and that’s when I decided to ask my friends to join me in our own version.
With all the negatives we hear on the news every day, what would you say have been your personal positives, like being with your family on their farm?
I love being with the family right now. I actually was just telling my dad how thankful I am for the amount of time we’ve spent together that I never thought that we would have again for this long. One of my favorite things to do on the farm is go trail riding on our horses with my mom — that’s been amazing. I also love the nostalgia of walking the same road I did growing up when I wanted some fresh air.
What can fans look forward to from you next?
I am releasing more music this year, so I’m super excited to share more of my story. I also will be doing live-streams until we are safe to play live again.