For Shannon Haley and Ryan Michaels, collectively known as rising country duo Haley & Michaels, the last year has been nothing short of a whirlwind. The pair married last May, garnered national attention for their song “Giving It All (To You)” and wrote and recorded a new EP, to be released later this year.
While country fans may have gotten a taste of Haley & Michaels with “Giving It All (To You)” and “500 Miles,” the duo is putting their finishing touches on a new project, which they call an evolution of their sound.
The thing about Haley & Michaels that’s been the through line is that we’re a pure duo and there isn’t a lead singer,” says Ryan. “We’re really excited and proud of what this project represents.” Shannon adds, “We experimented with different ways to use our voice together, and each song has a unique twist on how to be a duo.”
One song that will be on the new EP is “Giving It All (To You),” which holds a special place in both of their hearts. The song was their own wedding song, but also took on a life of its own as many other people’s wedding songs. “It’s special to us because it’s our wedding song,” says Ryan. “It’s also special to us because it’s something we didn’t really intend to ever put out and when we did, we started getting so many messages about people connecting to it and using it for their weddings. I think as an artist and as a songwriter, having something that’s personal to you and that people can connect to, is kind of everything.”
Another song that will be on the new EP is called “The Price I Pay,” and Shannon lists it as one of her favorites, as it’s the first song they ever wrote together.
We’ve recorded that song a few different times and a few different demos trying to get it right and we just were never able to capture how we heard it in our heads. This time, I think we really feel like we captured it and got it right in the studio. And so, I’m really excited to have that released to our fans because it’s one of my favorite songs and we’ve had it forever and have never been able to put it out there.”
The couple made their Opry debut last October and describe it as a highlight of their careers thus far. Shannon admitted that she loved working with the Opry band and the amazing musicians “made it really special.” Ryan described the experience as “surreal,” admitting that it was an incredible moment, both personally and professionally. “It’s one thing to stand on that stage and experience that, but it’s another thing on a personal note, to look across the circle and see my wife. That wasn’t a part of – when I was 17 and I came to Nashville – that wasn’t my vision, but it was that much more special to share that moment with Shannon.”
In another career highlight, Haley & Michaels made their national television debut on NBC’s The Today Show, thanks in part to the support of co-host Hoda Kotb. “She’s really an advocate of new music and stuck her neck out there and got behind us,” Ryan says.
When it comes to goals they still have yet to accomplish, the pair admits that it would be their dream come true to open for Garth Brooks and to have a song recorded by another artist. “The songwriters in us would love to have a song recorded by another artist,” says Shannon. “I think that would just be so inspiring…just as a piece of our journey if we had our dream.”
And when it comes to who they’d like to collaborate with on any level, Ryan quickly names Little Big Town. “That would be a dream scenario for us. We love their music and have so much respect for them as people and their perseverance in the music business that I think that any opportunity to do any sort of collaboration with them would just be a dream come true.”
In addition to having someone else record their song, the pair admit that having people connect with their music has been the biggest reward thus far.
We’ve gotten a couple of pictures from people who have tattooed the lyrics on their arm because it was their wedding song. I just keep thinking back to sitting in our little writing room in our house and creating these words that we never in our wildest dreams would’ve imagined that they would be tattooed on someone’s arm or played at someone’s wedding and just become a part of someone’s lives. I think, for me, that’s the whole goal and the whole dream and the reason why I do this, is for that, it’s just the best.”
The pair recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary and Ryan says that it’s played an integral part in their musical journey.
There is something about getting married, and it is a lifelong commitment, and I think that once you’ve gone down that path, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we started off by telling you that this new project is the evolution of us musically and it’s also all been recorded and written in the year we’ve gotten married. It’s a huge part of it.”
With a new EP on the way, Haley & Michaels are looking forward to getting their music out to the fans and then getting back on the road. Although it may seem impossible with everything they’ve accomplished in the last year, it looks like their second year of marriage will be more eventful and exciting than the first.