The 612 Interview with Hailey Verhaalen

“How I Make a Livin’”

My new “hand in the wind” single “How I Make a Livin’” speaks to my belief that money can’t buy happiness, but making memories can. I love a good feel good song, and this one made me so happy to write, and it makes me so happy to listen to! I can only hope my listeners can relate to the belief that as long as we are gifted another day each morning, we might as well make it worth remembering — especially if it means appreciating and enjoying the little things a little more than yesterday!

6 Things You Don’t Know About Me:

Not many people know this about me, but when I was younger, I … I was BIG into riding quads. I started at the age of maybe 8 or 9, and immediately fell in love with riding. I would usually go with my dad, brother and our group of family friends who also loved riding! Down the line, I saved up to buy my very own souped up sports bike that would take me up any hill I wanted to conquer, and once I got my own truck I could go any time I wanted to — which was a new freedom. I loved riding in the mud, but the sand dunes were my absolute favorite! I have not been able to make it back since moving to Nashville 5 years ago, which sucks… But we give up what we have to to chase a dream!

What’s your favorite family tradition? By far my favorite family tradition is Christmas morning! When my brother and I were kids, it used to start by us sneaking downstairs to explore the pile of presents under the tree after our parents had finally gone to bed. A few short hours later we would wake our parents up — usually a little too early and were told we would have to wait a little bit longer to open — but once we did it was game on! Presents were usually followed by a big breakfast that my mom would make, which was always a well thought out meal with love baked into every bite. We’re all grown now, and the tradition has changed a lot over time. But at the core of our morphed family tradition is always love — which is what has been there since the beginning, and was always my favorite part about the “tradition” anyway.

What female celebrity do you wish was your sister? Why? Hands down Miranda Lambert. Not only does she seem really cool, she has also been my biggest influence in music and actually was a big reason I started believing that I could be a singer someday when I first discovered her. I love her style, attitude and how she supports other females in country music (which feels hard to come by sometimes!).

What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done? By far it was packing up the only life I’d ever known and moving across the country to chase country music in Nashville! I am about to celebrate my 5 year Nashiversary, and looking back is a complete whirlwind! I can’t even begin to express how right this decision was for me even though my life and goals have changed a lot over the last 5 years. I love it here and wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.

The trip you most want to take but haven’t yet. I want to go see the statue of Jesus in Rio De Janeiro. I have seen so many breathtaking photos of it, and think it would be incredible to see in real life!

What would be a good theme song for your life? I would say Kasey Musgraves “Follow Your Arrow” would be my life’s theme song!

12 songs that have influenced my life and career:

Bring Me Down — Miranda Lambert

This song was my introduction to Miranda Lambert — who would become the biggest influence on my musical dreams. The first time I heard it, I put it on a burned CD that I was going to take on that year’s hunting trip with my dad. My best friend Nicole and I fell in love with Miranda Lambert on that trip and would later see her in concert a bunch of times — and even win meet and greet passes. This song also brought me into peoples’ lives that I call good friends now! Back when Vine was a thing, I posted a cover of me singing this song, and Boomer Bass(who had a TON of followers) randomly saw it and told his followers to check me out! He graciously helped me to get in front of more people, giving me the confidence I needed to take another step forward in my musical dreams. We always stayed in touch, and a few years down the line I even flew down to Florida and sang at his wedding. The power of music and the connection it brings is amazing!

Hotel California (or any Eagles song really) — The Eagles

My dad introduced me to The Eagles growing up, which was one of the best music introductions ever. My fondest memories from childhood are camping trips listening to The Eagles Greatest Hits CDs, which my dad usually had multiple copies of because they would get scratches on them pretty quick (Lol). Listening to The Eagles brings a ton of nostalgia to me every time, and reminds me of “the good old days.”

Wind Beneath My Wings — Bette Midler

Ohhhhh boyyy, this song really gets me every time I listen to it. My grandma Bonnie’s wish when she passed away was that I sing this song at her burial. After holding her hand while she took her last breath at 17, I didn’t know how I was going to be able to do it, but dammit I was going to get through it somehow for her. The day came, and I tearfully sang it over her after the pastor said a prayer. This was the first time I had to sing through something really painful, which showed me that it was a tool I had in my pocket if I ever needed it again… which I definitely did later on.

Gunpowder & Lead — Miranda Lambert

This has always been a staple in my set lists at live shows, especially the full band ones! I like to think this song helped me find out who I could be as a performer. In my early artist/performing days, I was a nervous performer (still am, but I’ve opened up a lot), and would not move very much on stage. It felt like I would open up and get a little more into this one every time we would play it. Pretty soon, that energy would begin to translate to the other songs in my set, and I would start being more comfortable with being all over the stage putting my whole body into my performances instead of just standing there.

Misery and Gin — Merle Haggard

When I started playing shows, this one was always easy for me to pull raw emotion into even though I wasn’t even going through anything similar to the story in the song. It was like this song opened my eyes to my ability to insert myself into the story of the song so that others could feel the intention behind the lyrics. It also taught me that I didn’t always have to sing the songs I was going through for it to be therapeutic. While lyrics are therapeutic for me to sing and write, singing in general and shedding any type of emotions even through a story that isn’t my own is another great way to use the benefit of a song!

Doin’ Fine — Lauren Alaina

For the longest time I felt very alone in some of the things I’ve been through in life. Not only do I relate to this song on an extremely personal level, it gave me the courage to write more honestly about my story — if only for my own therapeutic gain!

The Eye — Brandi Carlile

I heard this song live for the first time ever at bonnaroo 2019, and it immediately changed my life. Not only was it a reminder that you have to go through the bad to get to the good, but it was also a great reminder to reach more inside myself and dig the lyrics out that are going to hit harder.

Footprints On The Moon — Gabby Barrett

This song just recently came out, and it hit me like a dagger when it did! I love a good “keep on going” song! But this one really came into my life at the right moment and reminded me that I can do anything!

Family Tradition — Hank Willams Jr.

Everyone has a song that takes them back to a million different memories from different periods of their life. When I listen to this song, I see 9 year old me riding down a gravel road in the front seat with my dad looking for deer on a hunting trip. I see 14 year old me watching my parents and their friends drunkenly dance and sing along at a holiday get together. I see 18 year old me sneaking beers from the fridge heading out to a bonfire with friends, and cheering when this one came on as we all started singing it at the top of our lungs. I have 100 more memories like this with this song at least! It is definitely a staple in my music library!

The Blade — Ashley Monroe

This song made me want to try to explain topics in my songs in more creative ways — or ways people hadn’t heard before. I was honestly blown away at how the writers described what the person in the story had put them through by using the image of a spinning knife. The person who catches it by the handle gets off easily, but the person who catches it by the blade is the one who gets cut and takes longer to heal! I thought it was a beautifully metaphorical way of painting that type of picture, and I strive to do that in my own songs!

Sparrow — Ashley McBryde

I’m sure by now you’re seeing the common theme in my song list revolving around being a nostalgic, deep feeling dream chaser. This song right here encapsulates all three of those things for me and describes the life of a dream chaser better than any song I’ve heard or written so far. It’s a great one to pull out when I’m missing home.

Never Met — Hailey Verhaalen

After talking about the songs that helped me reach deeper inside myself, I figured I’d throw in one of my own that implements that concept and changes me in different ways every time I sing it. I had been going through a season of dwelling in the past and wondering why I had to go through some of the things I’ve gone through in life. When I notice common themes coming up in life, I try to pay attention to them because they are usually where my best songs come from. In this season, I had come to the conclusion that I wouldn’t be sitting inside the life I love living today hadn’t I gone through those things. Every step was necessary to get to where I am now. The stories in the song come from that deep place I always try my hardest to get to in songwriting.