Way back in June during CMA Fest, I had the chance to sit down with the beautiful Amber Hayes and discuss everything from her music, to being a female in country music, and of course, songwriting. The Oklahoma native has been on the touring circuit for years now, opening for other influential entertainers like Reba McEntire (someone she considers one of her greatest inspirations). Last year, she released her 5-track EP, Running Out of Memories, as well as the single of the same name, to much fan fair. Her honest storytelling and feel-good nature has garnered her a huge fanbase online, not to mention her military following.
Her most recent release, Hero’s Heart, was inspired by her uncle, who one the Medal of Honor. She wrote it not only to honor her beloved family member, but also all the other Hero’s that serve our military every day. In our interview, you’ll find how very important this song is to her, along with so much more. Head on over to iTunes to purchase Hero’s Heart now, and be sure to check out her official website for future releases and touring information.
What is the best thing about being a part of a big festival like CMA Fest?
I love that there are fans from all over the world that come to CMA Fest. There are not very many genres of music that have something like this. Sure, there are country music festivals all over the country, but here… it’s the same people that come back every year. I talk to a guy earlier that this is his 24th CMA Fest. So it’s very cool to have those types of fans just coming from all over, like Australia and France. I always enjoy meeting country music fans from all over.
So you started the Sweet Sunday Singin’ get together at CMA Fest. This year was your 2nd year, tell me a little bit about that…
I’ve been apart of CMA Fest for a couple years now and I know there are a lot of things that go on. People do a lot of fan club parties and stuff, but I kind of wanted to do an event. I thought Sunday morning might be a cool things to do, just because I know everyone is tired, but it might be a good way to lift everyone up. Get some sugar in ’em. I thought positive with Sunday morning, so why don’t we do Sweet Sunday Singin’! I’m a southern girl so… I wanted it to be like everyone coming to hang out on my back porch and we sing. So I invite friends to get up and do a couple songs, and it’s sponsored by Gigi’s Cupcakes, who I love, and community coffee. Then I have January Alexandra Jones who comes in and shabby chics the place out so it’s very southern. It’s lots of fun!
If you look back on the days when you were going to festivals, what artists do you remember has truly great performers?
I love Reba. I grew up in Oklahoma, I’m a small town Oklahoma girl, so I always thought if Reba could do it, I could do it. Some of my first experiences as far as concerts go, were seeing Reba on stage. And she just puts on such a fabulous show. It’s like, ‘oh my gosh, I want to BE her.’ I remember feeling that when I was a little girl. She’s probably the biggest influence for me and performances that I would never forget. Garth, as well, obviously.
I feel that a lot in your music. It’s a really unique mix of classic country and 90’s country, which I grew up on. Do you feel like those are the aspects that have really influenced you the most?
Absolutely. That’s what we listened to when I was growing up, the traditional country music, like my Grandpa’s country music. But then I grew up loving the Joe Diffie’s of the world, and Patty Loveless, and the Judd’s. It definitely has influenced my music.
Tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind Running Out of Memories?
Okay, so! I’m a Pinterest fanatic (laughs), and I have a busy life, but when I get in bed at night that’s one of the things that I like to do. One night I saw something about ‘running out of memories’ and I thought, ‘that sounds like a really good song title…’ So, I was going on a retreat with a couple of songwriter buddies of mine to write for the record, and I asked them what they thought about the title. So, it was the first title and the first song that we wrote on this retreat, and it’s something that’s really true for everyone. We have memories, good, bad, and we’re never going to run out of them. And, hopefully we have more good than bad, but that’s the inspiration and how it came about.
That’s awesome! Pinterest is definitely one way to get inspired, what other things in life tend to inspire you the most?
I really feel like creative breeds creative. So, I read a lot and when I’m out on the road I also like to watch TV and go to the movies. I get a lot of song titles and ideas from movie and TV. I wrote a song this last week that came from the Aloha movie that’s out with Bradly Cooper. He said something and I got my phone out, which you’re not supposed to do in a movie, I know (laughs), but I put it in my phone. I wrote that title this week!
You have the single out now, are you working on a new EP or album? What’s happening next for you?
I’m always working on new music. I have a special song that’s coming out that I wrote for my Uncle, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor this past year from the President. I’ve really been focused on that.
I’ve seen people on social media talking to you about Hero’s Heart. It really seems to connect with a lot of people. Tell me a little bit more about that.
This song meant so much to me. The experience meant so much to me. Just to see someone that you love and care about, who is your Hero, and then see everybody acknowledge that, not to mention the President, is just fabulous. Then to go home and try to process it and write it in a song, and for people to respond saying, ‘Thank you for writing that, we love that’ or ‘Your Uncle inspires us’ it’s just like someone saying that your music is inspiring them… when you love someone and you care about someone, and other people brag on them, it makes you feel so good. It’s such a cool thing to be a part of and I’m so blessed I had that opportunity.
What’s up next for you?
I have a lot of shows coming up and I’m also doing some stuff with my Uncle, some military shows and things, and then just writing. Recording. Plugging right along.
Have you heard Hero’s Heart? Tell me what you think in the comments below or tweet me @JukeboxMixtape.