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Though His Friend Gave in Secret; Country Artist, Walker Hayes Had to Tell the Touching Story in a Hit Song

Josh Shepherd : Aug 10, 2018 :

Pop-country artist Walker Hayes had lost it all—a record deal and even his family's minivan, repossessed by a car dealer. Then a friend's kindness changed his life.

[] Weeks ago, emerging pop-country artist Walker Hayes released an unconventional song titled "Craig" as the second single off his new album Boom. Spoken word with sparse musical backing, it recounts when Hayes and his family were at their lowest point—and a Christian friend who provided an unexpected gift. (Image: Walker Hayes Screenshot /Project 615/YouTube/via The Stream)

The son of a former music minister, Hayes had strayed far from church and struggled for years with alcoholism. It grew worse as he lost his recording contract and was trying to make ends meet. For Hayes, the dream of a successful music career to provide for his wife Laney and six kids began to fade.

"At the time when I met Craig, I was not doing music for a job," recalled Hayes in a recent interview. "Things were bad—financially, really rough. I was working at Costco and this was prior to my sobriety."

"I was drinking a lot to not feel the pressure I was feeling."

When the Dream Seemed Lost

When the family visited Redeeming Grace Church in Franklin, Tenn., associate pastor Craig Cooper approached them.

"What touched me the most about my relationship with Craig is how different we were, but those differences didn't divide us," recalled Hayes recently to one Nashville morning show.

When the pastor asked about his week, Hayes sensed genuine care. "He didn't want me to say, 'All good,'" recalls the then-struggling artist. "He's one of those guys you just naturally spill your guts to, you leave and you're like: 'Why'd I say all that?' He invested in my life."

Yet his crisis deepened. Walker and Laney Hayes were stunned when a large tow truck came to their house one day to repossess the family minivan.

"I remember that day, watching them put it on the truck," recounts Hayes. "My kids were like, 'It's awesome how they do that!' I was like, 'Not really.' That was a sad time in our life."

Working long hours at Costco, he would sometimes encounter former friends in the music industry. "It was awkward for both of us," he stated recently.

The Life-Changing Surprise

The family man continued to bring his family to church on Sundays—asking the kids in the back to quickly duck when their parents saw a police officer. Their compact Honda was a few seats too short for a family of eight.

Hayes also cheered on his kids at their ballgames. After a game one night, Hayes was surprised to find his church friend Craig Cooper in the parking lot. He had the keys and vehicle title to a minivan. They argued until Hayes finally accepted it.

"When Craig did this for me, he wanted it to be anonymous," says Hayes. "He did not want a single soul to know that he gave me a car. [Even] his brother had no idea this happened until this song."

To thank his friend, Hayes worked for three months on a song. During this time, he also reconnected with Nashville producer Shane McAnally. The hitmaker behind such country artists as Sam Hunt and Old Dominion saw promise in Hayes' honest songwriting. They began to plan out a record.

When Hayes turned in "Craig" as one option for his new album, the producer was floored...

Click here to continue reading and to view the Lyric Video for the song, "Craig."

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