Walker Hayes brought his Glad You’re Here co-author, Craig Allen Cooper, to tears with a heartfelt tribute on the TODAY Show on Wednesday morning (May 4), after the longtime friends chatted about their just released book with host Hoda Kotb.
The viral country hitmaker and Cooper joined Kotb and her colleague Willie Geist at Studio 1A in New York City to chat about their book, Glad You’re Here: Two Unlikely Friends Breaking Bread & Fences. As the interview began Hayes admitted that it was “wild” that he and Cooper were sitting together on the TODAY Show.
Hayes then opened up about how life was when he first met Cooper and that all he wanted was to feel “welcomed” after losing two record deals and having his life flipped upside, barely being able to make ends meet.
“I needed to feel welcomed, honestly, Nashville really beat me up. I was an alcoholic, Laney and I lost a kid, it was tough, and the unconditional love of Craig and his family truly changed our life and we saw Jesus in them so clearly and that’s coming from an atheist and again it’s just wild that we’re sharing a book about Jesus,” Hayes shared. “We’re neighbors now, it’s insane. I love this guy, I love his family and I’m just glad we get to do life together.”
Cooper later added that while most people have heard the song and Hayes’ side of the story, he hopes that the book will allow fans to learn that Hayes’ also helped Cooper and his family.
“A lot of people have heard the song, like we helped the Hayes’ [family] and the truth is, you know, Walker and Laney and their family have been with us in our hardest times and they have lifted us up and it’s just been a friendship I think that is from Heaven,” Cooper added.
Kotb and her co-host Geist then asked Hayes how his life has changed since meeting Cooper.
“It’s all about Jesus, honestly, now, which it wasn’t at all when I wrote this song for Craig, I was very intentional in not saying Jesus’ name. I didn’t want to say his name,” Hayes explained. “I didn’t believe in him, but I said ‘man, this dude might actually know ’em.’ That’s what the song says, and that was kind of my rebuttal to their unconditional love and the gift of the car.”
“Now, I know the Lord, and the music and stuff is all awesome, but I truly feel like I’ve been given this platform, this stage, to share this message and the timing of it has been Lord orchestrated,” the “AA” singer continued. “We started this book two years ago, I could have sold like 12 copies to maybe like my Mom and Dad and now with ‘Fancy Like,’ I’m helping superstars start TikTok pages. We just have a great platform to share this simple message of vulnerability, friendship and just strangers becoming neighbors, I feel like everybody needs to hear that.”
Many fans are amazed by Hayes and Cooper’s vulnerability, according to the GRAMMY-nominated singer.
“I can bring the lowest of low to Craig,” Hayes shared, before Cooper added, “oh me too, in fact, I was at a point over [the global health crisis] I was really, really low and I was apologizing to Walker and Laney at a dinner table and I said ‘I’m so sorry I’m so low right now.’ And what he said just crushed me, he said ‘it’s okay man, we love you low.'”
— TODAY with Hoda & Jenna (@HodaAndJenna) May 4, 2022
Walker Hayes Also Paid Tribute To His Friend And Co-Author Craig Allen Cooper During The Show With a Performance Of “Craig”
After chatting with the TODAY Show hosts, Hayes took to the stage to sing “Craig,” a song that inspired the book, which details the unlikely friendship between Hayes and Cooper. The song shares the story of a time when Cooper – a pastor – gifted Hayes the keys to a vehicle after noticing the “Fancy Like” singer and his family were struggling to make ends meet.
As Hayes performed the emotion-filled tune, photos of him, Cooper and their families surrounded him on the screens. Cooper, who watched Hayes’ performance from across the room, was brought to tears from the heartfelt tribute to him and shared a hug with Hayes after the performance.
Glad You’re Here Is Out Now Everywhere
Hayes and Cooper released their highly-anticipated book, Glad You’re Here: Two Unlikely Friends Breaking Bread & Fences, on Tuesday, May 3.
The book serves to guide readers into learning “how building relationships, sacrificing for the good of others, and drawing near in times of need can lead to powerful transformation,” as stated in a press release.
Glad You’re Here also details the transformations that Hayes has experienced after facing uphill battles such as a previous battle with alcoholism, and the tragic loss of his seventh child, Oakleigh Klover Hayes.
“[The book] uncovers the details of our friendship, my testimony, us losing a baby, so I go in detail about losing Oakleigh and how the Lord has redeemed that,” Hayes previously told Music Mayhem. “I also talk about my battle with alcoholism and how it’s going. When I met Craig, I was an alcoholic, and now I will be six years sober in October. So man, [this book] documents our life together and what an impact [Craig] and his family had on us and why, which is just because of Christ.”
Indeed, Hayes and Cooper are living proof of the message behind their book, as their personalities couldn’t have been more mismatched. Initially, Walker strayed from being a believer in Christ, while Cooper did the opposite. Before knowing each other, Walker was trying to find his way as a musician, while Cooper was struggling to navigate his place as a pastor. Despite the pitfalls, both of them discovered something in each other that paved the way for a positive breakthrough that came along with a powerful Christ-centered friendship.
Since establishing his friendship with Cooper, Hayes has gone from struggling singer to country superstar. 2021 saw him reach new heights with his viral hit, “Fancy Like,” from his project, Country Stuff The Album. The chart-topping tune earned Hayes several award nominations, including a GRAMMY nod, as well as topped the Billboard Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs chart.
This year is no different. Hayes is preparing for his upcoming headlining Glad You’re Here arena tour, appropriately named after the new book. The fifteen-city trek, featuring special guest Parmalee, begins on Sept. 29 with its first show in Johnstown, PA.
Glad You’re Here: Two Unlikely Friends Breaking Bread & Fences is available everywhere now, HERE.