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Walker Hayes

Walker Hayes

It took Walker Hayes over a decade to break into the country mainstream, but when he finally landed a Top Ten hit in 2017 with "You Broke Up with Me," it hit with the force of an explosion and proved an appropriate song title, since its parent album was called boom. The 2017 album came six years after his full-length debut, Reason to Rhyme, announcing a promising talent in a bro-country vein, but boom. was fresh and fused modern R&B, contemporary country, hip-hop, and rock, announcing a distinctive talent. Hayes consolidated this breakthrough with the clever "Fancy Like," which reached number one on Billboard's Country charts in 2021, a hit that was the cornerstone of his third record, Country Stuff the Album. He reached the charts again in 2023 with "Good with Me," which appeared on the short but sweet New Money. An EP, Sober Thoughts, arrived in April 2024.

Hayes is a native of Mobile, Alabama. Born on December 27, 1979, he grew up in Mobile, dividing his time between music and sports as a child and teenager. He wound up earning a music degree from Alabama's Birmingham-Southern College, then attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He and his wife moved to Nashville in 2005 with dreams of him becoming a professional musician. He signed a song publishing deal and then, on the strength of a demo he recorded for Keith Urban, Hayes inked a deal with Mercury before quickly moving to Capitol Records. He released his debut single, "Pants," in 2010, which wound up reaching 60 on the Hot Country Songs chart. The full-length Reason to Rhyme followed in 2011, but it didn't chart.

Over the next few years, Hayes worked as a songwriter, landing placements with Colt Ford and Rodney Atkins in 2014. Capitol dropped him, so he worked at Costco and continued to write, releasing the single "Pimpin' Joy" to little attention in 2014. Shane McAnally signed him to SMACK/RareSpark in 2016, leading him to release two EPs -- 8Tracks, Vol. 1: Good Shit and 8Tracks, Vol. 2: Break the Internet -- that year. Hayes landed a contract with Monument in 2017, which released "You Broke Up with Me" that year. The song became a hit, earning gold certification and setting up the release of the full-length boom. in December 2017. The album debuted at number six on the Top Country Albums chart, and peaked at number 37 on the Billboard 200.

boom. didn't generate another big hit and it took Hayes a little while to climb back up the charts. The nostalgic "'90s Country" didn't crack the Top 40 in 2018, nor did the sentimental "Don't Let Her" -- pulled from 8Tracks (Vol. 3): Black Sheep, a belated sequel to his 2016 EPs -- in 2019; the 2020 single "Trash My Heart" didn't do much either. Hayes finally returned to the charts in 2021 when "Fancy Like" made it to number one on Billboard's Hot Country Songs Chart, setting the stage for the June release of his EP Country Stuff. He expanded the EP into Country Stuff the Album, which appeared in January 2022, after "U Gurl" and "AA" became sequel singles to "Fancy Like." Later that year, the non-album single, "Y'all Life," added to his growing clutch of hits and he followed it with the mellow "Face in the Crowd." Spearheaded by the radio hit "Good with Me," the eight-song mini-album New Money appeared the following year. Hayes faced down his demons on the 2024 EP Sober Thoughts, which kicked off his next tour. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

On AirK92.3 - Orlando's #1 for New Country Logo

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