Walker Hayes Reflects on ‘Redemption’ After Losing His Daughter Oakleigh

Nearly four years ago, Walker Hayes and his family had their lives forever changed, when his seventh child, daughter Oakleigh, passed away shortly after she was born. His wife, Laney, suffered a ruptured uterus and nearly lost her life as well.

When the tragedy occurred, on June 6, 2018, Hayes was set to make his debut at the CMT Music Awards that year. He finally made his return to the stage during the recent ceremony, performing his single, “AA.” It was, he admitted, a bittersweet performance.

“Being here has that twinge of a little PTSD,” Hayes admitted to People, adding that it wasn’t all sorrow and sadness. “So much redemption has happened since. We lost a child, but Laney and I gained so much since then.”

No one could have predicted, including Hayes, how much everything in his life and career would change with the massive success of “Fancy Like.” The hit single earned him a headlining tour, performances all over the country, awards nominations, and a level of fame and recognition few artists ever achieve.

To him, none of it holds the weight it might have in the past.

“We are continually reminded, in figuring out what matters, it’s not this,” Hayes maintained. “It’s you and me, but it’s not the glamour and the clothes and the awards or the success.”

Hayes was nominated for a CMT Music Award, for Male Video of the Year, with “Fancy Like.” The trophy went to Cody Johnson instead, for his hit, “‘Til You Can’t.” He was also nominated for a Grammy Award, for Best Country Song, which went to Chris Stapleton for “Cold” instead.

“You’re just grateful, grateful, grateful to be nominated,” Hayes admits. “But it also hurt to lose. It was weird. I even prayed right before it. I was like, ‘God, win or lose, you get all the glory.’ And then we lost. And I was like, dad gum it.”

In addition to new music, the 42-year-old also has a new book out, Glad You’re Here, with his friend Craig Cooper, who inspired his song, “Craig.” In the book, Hayes talks about his faith, which has helped him through the highs and lows of the last few years.

“Honestly, I don’t care about sharing anything else,” Hayes tells Everything Nash. “To be quite frank with you, I don’t think there’s anything else worth sharing than what Jesus has done with me and the redemption I’ve experienced here on earth, and will continue to experience from knowing Him. That’s it. That’s why I wanna share my story.”

Click here to subscribe to our YouTube channel.