She's a small town singer with great big dreams
Barrhead country singer Erin Haley has made it to one of 30 contestants in CMT’s Big in a Small Town contest, which airs Thursday, Aug. 23 at 5 p.m.
Haley was visiting her parents in Nova Scotia when her manager told her about the opportunity. Because she did so many contests when she first began her music career, Haley wasn’t keen on the idea of doing another. However with some encouragement, the singer entered into the competition.
“I’ve been in this industry for 11 years now. I thought, I’m tired of doing contests,” she says. “I’ve done so many contests as a new artist, that I kind of just became jaded towards them.”
The contest required artists to submit a video of themselves singing either an original song, or a song from a list provided. Haley decided to do an original song, and did the video while in Nova Scotia.
Haley was in Vancouver when she got the phone call from CMT that she had made it to the next round. She headed to Jasper, where she filmed interviews for the show and performed her song live for the contest judges. Though Haley is used to performing, she says it was nerve wracking knowing she was being judged.
“Put me in front of hundreds of thousands of people I’m fine,” she says. “But put me in front of two and ask me to sing, I just don’t like it. Especially when you know you’re being judged.”
Haley can’t pinpoint why it was country music she came to love, but when she got her first radio and stereo system in her bedroom, Haley stopped on the country station.
“I don’t even know why,” she says. “It was just kind of something I liked on my own without my parents influence.”
Her parents may not have liked country music as much as their daughter, but Haley says they have always been supportive of her choices.
“My parents always said if you ever decide you’re going to persue this as a career we’re behind you and we’ll help you,” says Haley. “If I hadn’t had them behind me, I probably would have honestly given up a few years ago.”
It may be hard to believe now, but Haley said up until her grade 12 year there was still no one in her school who knew she could sing. This all changed when she performed at her high school graduation.
“I finally let everybody know I could sing,” she says. “Being able to do that made me realize I could handle it, I just had to get past some of the nerves.”
After plunging into her first live performance, Haley began entering in any contest she could find. After years of various competitions, she eventually graduated to playing with a full band and doing shows at small venues. About six years ago she began playing in bars and festivals.
Currently, Haley is trying to move away from the bar scene because they end up costing the artist money, and aren’t that great for recognition.
“You do earn a few fans here and there, but for the most part it’s just live music to them,” she says. “At this point in my career I’m really looking at playing bigger festivals, and I want to start opening for bigger acts, which I’ve been doing here and there.”
If she isn’t going to be making as much money as she’d like to, Haley says she would rather play for people who are attending the event for the love of country music.
“They’re there because they already know the artist they’re going to see. They don’t mind seeing an opening act that maybe they don’t know,” says Haley. “At least at festivals and opening for bigger bands you can play a lot of your own songs, and people love that.”
Right now Haley is practicing for a showcase called Diamonds in the Rough, which she will be doing at the CCMAs in September.
Haley considers her biggest accomplishment so far to be the big acts she has been able to open for, such as April Wine, Chilliwack, and Loverboy. She has also been an opening band for artists big on the country scene, including Aaron Pritchett and Deric Ruttan.
“Every time I can do that is a big accomplishment for me,” she says.
The most rewarding part however, is each new fan. Haley says getting positive comments on her Facebook and Twitter pages from people who love her music, most of whom she has never met in person, is something she really enjoys.
“It makes you go oh, there’s people out there listening to my music who I’ve never even met before,” she says.
They’re not my family or my friends who will tell me they love it whether it’s good or it’s not. It’s real fans that I don’t even know.
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