Walker Hayes may be a successful country artist, but that’s not all. He is also an author – well, soon-to-be author, that is. Hayes is gearing up for the release of his new and first-ever book, Glad You’re Here: Two Unlikely Friends Breaking Bread & Fences, due out May 3rd.
Hayes didn’t write the book alone. He wrote it with good friend Craig Allen Cooper. Fans may recognize Cooper’s name from Hayes’ song, “Craig,” which details the unlikely friendship between the two of them. The song shares the story of a time when Cooper – a pastor – gifted Hayes the keys to his vehicle after noticing the singer and his family were struggling to make ends meet.
Being on the receiving end of the pastor’s generosity led Hayes to make some necessary, dramatic life-changes that allowed him to take a deep dive into his spirituality. Through that, the country star developed a brother-like friendship with Cooper, and the two of them set out to create a book that celebrates the gift of friendship brought on by the goodness of faith.
“I met Craig at a church called Redeeming Grace, honestly, I wasn’t wanting to be at the church,” Hayes recalls of the time he met Cooper in a YouTube video promoting the new book, published by Moody Publishing.
“I just remember when Walker walked in, I could tell that he didn’t want to be there and I thought, this is an answer to prayer,” Cooper added.
Glad You’re Here: Two Unlikely Friends Breaking Bread & Fences 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.
Pages of the book also detail the transformations that Hayes 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.”
Although the book hasn’t been released just yet, both Hayes and Cooper got their hands on a special copy, celebrating the final product with a photo, as seen on Cooper’s Instagram.
“Big day in my little world! @walkerhayes and I just opened a box of our new book “Glad You’re Here” together with our families — a huge celebration,” Cooper captioned the photo of him standing beside Hayes’ holding up the book for the world to see. “I love everything about this book – from the smell of it (🤣), to the cover design, to the pictures of our families together in the back few pages, to the the table of contents (Walker and I were talking about the moment we wrote the names of the chapters on my back porch…), to the redemptive stories we’ve lived together as families.”
“I’m a huge reader, and I’ve never read a book like this before because it goes back and forth between the two of us in each chapter,” he added. “It’s all pointing somewhere amazing, to someone amazing 👆. Ah, I can’t wait for the world to hear this message of friendship, hope, and redemption.”
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.
And, Hayes is seeing the positivity continue with his own eyes.
“I got a publishing deal pretty fast. And, I got a record deal pretty fast, and that’s when I began to see that that’s just the beginning. That doesn’t solidify your career forever,” Hayes shared. “Slowly but surely was dropped from a few places like that. My stuff didn’t really explode on the radio, and my dream was shattered. Yet, I continued to write.”
“After I became a Christian, I shot right into the Pastoral Ministry, and two and a half years later, I was burned out. I ended up getting let go from that church because of my lack of experience. It broke my heart. But, God just began to use my background, the brokenness, all of that, to the point where, when Walker is telling me about his dreams, and his desires and ways that they had been shattered, and yet he continued, I just thought, ‘Alright, I can relate with that. I just want to hang with this guy,” Cooper recalled.
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 tune topped the Billboard Country Airplay and Hot Country Songs chart, respectively.
This year is no different. Hayes is preparing for his upcoming headlining Glad You’re Here arena tour, appropriately named after his forthcoming 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 to preorder everywhere now HERE.