The first time I heard of Drew Haley was when I interviewed a remarkable group of country vocalists in 2020 called The Highway Women. I was impressed at how good each artist was and how they easily blended their unique voices.
But like so many who got their start during a pandemic, they just couldn’t keep the momentum going without being able to get out and tour.
I was always aware of Haley’s powerful voice as evinced by the soaring song, “High in Denver.” But what I did not know is what a gifted songwriter Haley was. With songs like “Fool To Remember,” her honest storytelling connects with fans leaving them with a sense of personally knowing the artist.
Haley confirmed, “[Songwriting] has always been my strength. I started writing songs at age 12 and by the time I was 18, I had written more than 100 songs. I am from a small town in Texas even before I graduated high school, I was working on my first album.”
She learned to sing in church, borrowed her brother’s guitar, and got one of those guitar posters with all the chords on it. Haley learned the C, D, G, and E chords and took a few guitar lessons in junior high. Being from such a small town, there weren’t a lot of options for the burgeoning musician.
After graduation, the singer/songwriter moved to Austin, Texas, a town renowned for its live music, and lived there for five years while working on a second album. While she was there performing in a songwriter’s group, she won a showcase and got the opportunity to play at the Bluebird Café in Nashville. Once she got here, she knew it was the place she belonged to hone her creativity.
As many do when they first arrive, Haley worked the songwriters’ rounds. She got married and had three children.
Drew Haley’s cuts have landed on five Nashville artists’ albums and appeared in several episodes of the hit TV series Nashville. Her bright, alt-pop track “It’s Gonna Be a Good Day” was nominated for the Hollywood Music and Media Awards. In 2019, she joined the all-female-fronted act The Highway Women and was featured on the track “Dead Man Walking,” which premiered exclusively on Taste of Country. Her solo single and music video “Wildflower” debuted on Apple Music’s Best New Country Songs with Heart Songs Music Group, followed by the single “Fool to Remember,” which debuted on Apple Music’s Best New Country Songs, as well as CMT.
Haley released her EP Wildflower in October 2020, showcasing her storytelling skills and effortless vocals in five lush, country-pop ballads. Next, she dropped singles “High in Denver” in July 2021 and “A Good Woman” in November 2021 (along with a music video in December), supported by CMT, the Academy of Country Music, Holler, and more. In September 2022, she released breezy new folk-pop single “Hallway” on all streaming platforms.
Although Haley's star was rising, she was undergoing a devastating divorce personally. But, as it is with life’s ebbs and flows, she eventually fell in love with her soulmate, Bob Burke, and married him in August of 2021.
Now her newest EP Don’t Mess With Mama is fueled by Haley’s years of songwriting in Music City as well as her progression into the next phase of her life. “I wrote some of the tracks after an ugly divorce, and some while falling in love with my current husband,” she advised.
Recorded at RCA Studios, distributed by Heart Songs Music Group, and produced by David Spencer, Don’t Mess with Mama showcases Haley’s knack for narrative songwriting with a country twist.
With each song penned by the artist, the EP spans many emotions - heartbreak, falling in love all over again, and being strong and proud in womanhood and motherhood.
With the honesty of "Leavin'," you feel the excruciating pain she experienced with a song that was written at one of the lowest points in her life. Conversely, you will want to rejoice alongside Haley as she finds true love in the upbeat tune, “You’re It.”
The songstress wrote the song “Blame It On the Moon” with her pal, Bailey James. The song follows the story of two people falling in and out of love. And while James is renowned for her wailing vocals on many of her own songs, Haley delivers an estimable cover the of country blues song as she belts out “Like mercury in retrograde, you wasted my time.” The instrumentation is fun and lighthearted underneath the sour story.
The song from the EP that impacted me the most is “Grandma’s Prayer.”
She told me, “I wrote this song while I was praying. I was pretty angry and emotional and crying to the Lord. Then I got a flashback of me sitting on my grandma's couch. He showed me the room and I saw myself in her house she had her eyes closed, her hands raised and I was singing “Amazing Grace” because she used to always ask me to sing “Amazing Grace” when I was little and I didn't realize that at the time she was praying for my gifts, that God would bless me with them.”
The title track, “Don’t Mess With Mama” is the song that Haley says best describes her. It shows a fun and playful side of Drew that isn’t normally portrayed through her music. As a mother of three, the song is a sultry anthem for her and many mothers in the same situation. Her words warn Just like a lion, I'll hunt you down/ Mess with my cubs, there's gonna be blood, I'm ready to pounce/ Maybe ya met your match this time/ I don't play games, let's cut to the chase, now you're mine. The rollicking tune could easily be on the soundtrack of a western movie.
“I hope people see themselves in my songs,” she said on her website. “Being a writer means being vulnerable and willing to share who you are with an audience. If that audience can empathize, then you’ve achieved the goal. Nothing feels better than pouring your heartache into a song.”
Drew Haley is in a good place in her life, and she can concentrate on what really matters, her family and her husband. But the good thing is with such a wonderful support system in place, it frees her to become all that she was meant to be. Even though this young mother has been at it for a bit career-wise, now is the time for the rest of the world to learn how talented this multi-faceted artist truly is.
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Don’t Mess With Mama Tracklist
1 Don't Mess With Mama
2 You're It
4 Blame it on the Moon
5 Grandma's Prayer