Within the last few months, country music fans have witnessed Walker Hayes turn into an internet sensation and a world-renowned singer-songwriter. Fresh off the heels of his GRAMMY-nominated anthem, “Fancy Like,” Hayes has brought transparency to the next level by opening up about his rapid rise to fame, family dynamic, life struggles, and even the hardships that go along with losing a child.
Any true supporter of Hayes understands that he is a family man at heart. The multi-platinum artist has never shied away from showing off his wife Laney and six children, as they are the masterminds behind his viral TikTok dances. Although the artist and his tight-knit family are usually seen wearing a smile, Hayes recently told Music Mayhem the weight they hold and the story they hide behind their pearly whites.
In 2018, Hayes and his wife Laney mourned the death of their daughter, Oakleigh Klover, after facing several birth complications during an emergency cesarean section. Following the heartbreaking news that Oakleigh had passed away, his wife was rushed into surgery and was battling for her own life.
“I really just hoped that this wasn’t going to be the worst day of my life, even though it kind of already was,” Hayes told PEOPLE four years ago. “Surgery just seemed to never end, and someone would continue to come to me and say things that I didn’t really understand, ‘we may have to use this much to replace this blood.’ That is when I began to worry for my wife’s life, and of course, I’m freaking out.”
Although the surgeons had saved Laney’s life with the blood transfusion, Hayes was still stuck in a nightmare-like reality. He was the one who had to break the news to his wife that their newborn was not safe in his hands, but Gods. “When Laney wakes up, how do I tell her?” he previously told the outlet. “How am I the one to explain, it’s a girl, but you know, she died?’ I knew that was just going to crush Laney.”
Thankfully, the two had a friend who had faced a similar situation. The saving grace at the time, had lost a baby four years prior and had suggested spending time with Oakleigh’s body. “I didn’t know what was morbid, I didn’t know what was normal,” the hitmaker shared. “But she began just walking me through the process. It is a miracle she was there.”
After years of reflection, Hayes is now utilizing the power of music to share his story and to help other grieving individuals. “It’s called ‘Six On Earth, One In Heaven,’ and it’s about me meeting someone who had experienced the same thing, and it is really centered on the fact that when some tragedy occurs to you, you’re in a club,” Hayes exclusively told Music Mayhem. “You don’t want to be a member of that club, but you’re so grateful to meet someone else who is in that club, who has experienced that loss because you feel less alone,” he added while getting noticeably choked up.
The songwriter revealed that he would like to release the sentimental track on one of Oakleigh’s birthdays. “June 6 is when we lost her, and she would be four coming up,” he said before praising and sharing his endless gratitude for his supportive team.
“I have thought about it with my team, perhaps just dropping that. But, dropping that would merely just be to help someone out there, and that’s a beautiful thing. They would have allowed me to do that before ‘Fancy Like’… that’s just kind of how my label rolls,” he concluded.
@walkerhayesofficial will honor his late daughter, Oakleigh, in a new song called “Six On Earth, One In Heaven.” #WalkerHayes
The moving ballad does not come as a surprise to some, as Hayes previously teased the track during a late-night Instagram live a few months ago.
“I don’t want the world to forget you / Oakleigh, I will always say seven / Six on earth and one in Heaven / well, I guess that’s all for today / brought you some fresh flowers / and here’s a plum, I guess for the ants to devour / I promise I will never keep you like a secret, even though we couldn’t keep you / Cause you just never know who might have an Oakleigh too / Even though I know you’re somewhere better / I don’t want the world to forget you / Oakleigh I will always say seven / six on Earth and one in Heaven,” the vulnerable artist sang with tears in his eyes.
While sympathetic fans showed their support in the comments, the Grammy-nominated singer said, “I appreciate y’all listening to my stuff and just letting me dump it all out. The reason I wanted to vent that is that I was just touched by y’all responses by my just short caption that hinted at something my wife [Laney] and I went through, and you just don’t know what it means when you open back up,” he said, holding an acoustic guitar.
While the official release date for “Six On Earth, One In Heaven” is still up in the air, fans can browse Walker Hayes’ social media and see a precious picture of a tiny footprint tattoo that signifies that his little girl is always with him.
Fans can now stream Hayes’ just released 13-track collection, Country Stuff The Album, which recently dropped on Friday, January 21.
Hayes is currently in the midst of his headlining Fancy Like Tour, which kicked off on Jan. 27 in Grand Rapids, MI. The tour, featuring support from MacKenzie Porter, will make stops in New York, Knoxville, Nashville and more, before wrapping up in Louisville, KY, on April 30.