In 2008, she starred in a little-known production called Conway Twitty: The Man, The Music, The Legend… The Musical. Starring as Kathy Twitty, she laid the groundwork for a budding career in the entertainment business. Since then, she's been slowly gaining momentum with her current single "Any Day is a Good Day."
Nashville Gab recently spoke with the singer-songwriter about her inspirational song, what it was like to tour with hunky Ty Herndon and what TV show's she's currently obsessed with.
Nashville Gab: Do you ever get starstruck at events like CMA Fest?
Amber Hayes: Well, it’s funny. Joe Diffie’s been in here, and he’s from Oklahoma, where I’m from. I have a lot of admiration for people. It’s always like, I want to say ‘hey, thanks for the great music. Thanks for giving me something to want to be a part of.’ I think starstruck, the only person I’ve been completely starstruck over would be...Reba and Dolly [Parton] would be another one.
NG: Your current single is “Any Day is a Good Day.” It has such a positive message. What inspired it?
AH: Well, I’m a songwriter, as well. I was in a session, and we were starting to throw some ideas out. I was writing with Bill DiLuigi and J.P. Williams, and J.P is blind. It was pretty cool because that day, we were writing this inspiration kind of song. He was singing because I was sick that day. Normally when you’re writing, you have lyrics and you’re writing them down or typing them into a computer. Well, J.P. doesn’t have that. So, by the time we get through, he’s singing the worktape down. When the work tape’s over, I look over at the other co-writer, and we’re both crying. The song is really about any day we can wake up is a good day. To just think about how J.P.’s day is compared to ours and what he has to go through and all those obstacles...he just has so much joy. When you meet him, he’s just the happiest guy, but he has to overcome a lot daily. It was a song that I knew right then was special. It drew a lot of emotions out of us. I didn’t know if I wanted it to be a single, but I [loved] it and wanted to put it on the record.
NG: What are your favorite TV shows?
AH: Grey’s Anatomy. I love Scandal. Oh, Downton Abbey. Hart of Dixie, love that show. It’s cute.
NG: You had music featured on that last show, right?
AH: Yea. What’s crazy is I started watching it when it first came on, and I was like ‘this is cool. They’re playing a lot of Country music. It would be awesome if some of my songs got in there.’ [I was] just thinking about it, but not really thinking about it. One of my co-writers called and said ‘hey, we’re gonna have a couple songs on ‘Hart of Dixie.’’ ‘Oh, I love that show!’ So, if you watch the first season, you’ll hear four or five of my songs. I just really gravitated towards that show because it reminds me of where I’m from [a small town].
NG: In 2008, you were in the Conway Twitty Musical. How did you prepare for that production?
AH: I had done a little bit of theatre in the past but not anything at that level. I just got an email, and I thought ‘this is pretty cool’ about auditions. ‘This is something I’d love to do.’ I love Conway’s music. I went, and I auditioned and got the part of Kathy Twitty. It was a ton of hard work. Theatre is a totally different thing than just getting up and performing a show with your band. I was onstage about 75% of the time in about a two-hour show. It was crazy. It was [one] of the biggest opportunities. I got to play really big venues, and we got to tour with George Jones. We played the Ryman, and we played arenas. The main thing is we got to give Conway’s music back to his fans. It’s really said, you know, we lost Conway at a very young age.
NG: Did you ever get to meet George Jones?
AH: I did. Like I said, we opened for him a couple of times. We opened for him here at the Ryman. Nancy and him were very welcoming to all of us. That’s been a terrible loss for Country music. There will never, ever be a voice like that.
[Adding:] He toured with Conway when Conway was alive, and the show did really mean something to him. He did appreciate the fact that we were doing this Conway. He loved the show.
NG: Who are your biggest influences?
AH: Barbara Mandrell, Dolly and Reba are probably my top three influences. I love Trisha Yearwood. Patty Loveless [and] the Judds are also people that I grew up listening to.
NG: You opened for Reba, correct?
AH: I did. It was a dream come true.
NG: Did you get to talk to her beforehand?
AH: I met her before [that], and she actually sent me a very nice handwritten note. It’s framed in my house. [laughs] She is one classy person, and she’s from Oklahoma, too. She has made me feel like having a dream this big, I can actually get there.
NG: Are there any current artists you are impressed with?
AH: I love Brett Eldredge, love his voice. Kip Moore, I like him. Lee Brice. Those are some of my favorites. There’s another artist...Gwen Sebastian, I like. She’s worked really hard and has so much fire. I love that about her. I listen to a lot of traditional Country music. Those are probably where I draw more of my influences from.
NG: Previously, you toured with Ty Herndon. What was that like?
AH: It was awesome. He’s amazing. We were on the same label. I did probably about 50 shows with him and got to sing background for him and also do a couple songs at every show. He’s one of the best singers to ever come to Nashville. He’s just a great person. I couldn’t say enough great things about [him].
EX: What was the biggest lesson you learned from that tour?
AH: I guess it’s just that you keep going. He keeps reinventing himself and keeps doing more and more shows and recording. A couple years ago he did an inspirational album. He always goes out and puts on a great show. No matter what’s going on with his day, he always goes out there and does such a fabulous job.
Read the full interview here.
Photo Credit: Facebook