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January 23, 2014

From Weleetka to Nashville, aspiring singer’s story told in documentary

DUNCAN — Success in the music business rarely happens overnight.

Just ask Amber Hayes of Weleetka, whose journey through the business of country music is told  in “Music City U.S.A.,”

a feature-length documentary that will be shown at 5:15 p.m. Saturday in the Simmons Center theater during the Trail Dance Film Festival.

The country artist will also perform Friday night at Wall Street and during the Trail Dance award show Saturday evening.

From the beginning, she  always felt at home on stage, she said in an interview with The Banner.

“I felt like this is what I was supposed to do.”

Hayes, now 32, started singing at small Oklahoma festivals, fairs and at church.

She was only 15 when Jean Shepard, a Pauls Valley native and pioneer for women in country music, saw her singing in Ada.

“She invited me to sing in Nashville and I knew I wanted to move there,” Hayes said. “She told me to go back home, finish high school and move there when I turned 18. That’s what happened.”

Only two weeks out of high school, Hayes moved to Tennessee.

She landed the starring role of Kathy Twitty in the Conway Twitty musical “It’s Only Make Believe.”

Hayes released her debut album “C’mon” in 2010.  Her music was featured in the 2012 film “Cowgirls N’ Angels” and included a duet with Richie McDonald of Lonestar.

She was named “One to Watch in 2013” by Billboard’s The 615 after releasing her current single “Any Day is a Good Day.”

Hayes also opened for Reba McEntire, one of her biggest influences, in Durant last year.

“I feel really blessed to have had all these opportunities,” said Hayes.

“I may not be a household name yet but that’s okay. I’m working toward that and thankful so many of my dreams have come true.”

“Music City U.S.A.” was  directed by Chris McDaniel and delves into what Nashville means to country musicians.

It features artists such as Vince Gill, Little Jimmy Dickens, Charlie Daniels and Pam Tillis.

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