Nancy Hays is a successful international recording artist who has released five albums, made multiple DVDs and toured the UK five times with her own original music since 2000. She was born in Champaign/Urbana, Illinois, the daughter of a doctor and a nurse, with roots in farming. While performing in local theatre in her teens and with a high school band, it became evident that Nancy possessed an intensely powerful, natural country voice. “I fell in love with John Denver and Glen Campbell and all their wonderful story songs” she says. “Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt continue to be my biggest inspirations.” It wasn’t long before Nancy had her sights set on Nashville and the glittering prize of that all-important record deal.
Her dreams were off to a running start when she auditioned for and was hired to perform at Opryland USA and soon joined a special elite cast that performed in Hawaii and Las Vegas and made a television show singing solos that included Tennessee Waltz and Brown Eyes Blue. “‘I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool’ was an anthem for me,” Nancy laughs. While living in Nashville, roommates with Oscar nominated actress and friend Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, she met and befriended top Nashville musicians, songwriters and industry people. Nancy sang demos, wrote and recorded her own music and appeared on popular shows including the WSM Waking Crew and the Nashville Noon Show as well as other shows on TNN.
After graduating college at the top of her class with a degree in advertising and gaining a graduate degree from Northwestern University, Nancy formed a band, Nancy Hays & the Sawyer Brothers Band and started playing festivals, private events and fairs all over the country, honing her music performance chops even further. She also began shopping for a record deal at major labels in Nashville along with producer Craig Morris, meeting with executives such as Paul Worley and visiting publishing companies, in search of songs that could showcase her voice to record companies.
Although industry people took note of her, she didn’t score the deal as quickly as she would have liked. “I was really disappointed at the time, because I felt like they weren’t hearing anything unique out of me and didn’t necessarily think I had much potential as a major recording artist” she admits. “But the truth is I don’t think I was ready. I had a lot more living to do and a lot more songwriting and traveling to do.”
Undaunted by a lack of immediate success in Nashville, Nancy continued booking her own tours, by herself, on the strength of her experience as a performer and entertainer, looks, charm and people skills. She soon found herself opening for a slew of big-name acts, including Marty Stuart, Ronnie Milsap, Glen Campbell and Kenny Rogers. “I never played by the rules” she notes, “I thought well, if nobody is representing me, I’ll do it myself!”
Buyers quickly realised that Nancy was a consummate entertainer and she supported herself through touring for many years, as well as through acting and other creative ventures. It was at this time she met current producer Randy Gardner, with whom she formed a lifelong partnership. After a successful residency at The Riviera in Las Vegas during National Finals Rodeo, she and Randy produced a record entitled Come Dance With Me in 2003.
The title track, written by Marjorie Reeves (Tim McGraw) and Jim Snyder went viral after choreographer Jo Thompson wrote a line dance to it that spread far and wide. Soon the demand for live performances increased, particularly in Europe where the song was the rage with line dance fans in clubs and festivals and was being covered by many other artists. It was released as a single, with hundreds of thousands of downloads and views, and is still an international hit.
Come Dance With Me has been named one of the most popular line dance songs in the world by multiple publications in Europe and the United States, and was also nominated for the Crystal Boot Award in the UK. Nancy’s work has been praised by The Washington Post, the LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, the Las Vegas Sun, Variety, Billboard and many other publications.
Since 1991, Nancy Hays has been a wife and mother and raised four children, all of whom are professional artists. Nancy’s next records, Get In Line (2004) and Big Band Country (2010) attracted attention and grew her audience and fan base, and she toured to support them in the U.S. and U.K.
During the pandemic, with all the family at home, she had time to write songs on guitar and piano and plan her next record, which she is currently recording with producer Randy Gardner. Songs from this album include songs she has written inspired by the melodies of musical composer and artist Liz Carroll, including Friends For a Day and Age and Come Waltz With Me.
Nancy is like no other artist in country music. While her journey as a singer, writer and performer has spanned decades, this blonde beauty is truly an ageless talent, whose new release, Heart Like A Train, is fast gaining accolades and buzz among listeners of all ages. The song, written by Country Music Hall of Fame writers Ronnie Samoset (Patty Loveless, Diamond Rio) and Matraca Berg (Keith Urban, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood) is as modern and captivating today as it was when it was first written and given to Nancy by famed Nashville producer Paul Worley years ago.
Nancy has recorded five albums and made five tours of the U.K. as an original country artist, performing Heart Like A Train to a fantastic response from audiences, among other hits. Witnessing the reaction from fans to her live performances of Heart Like A Train inspired her to release this deep but catchy song with a brand-new music video. The release of the song, video and vinyl album will herald a sixth tour to the U.K. in 2024.
Until now, Nancy has been best known for her international, award-winning hit song Come Dance With Me which became a phenomenon, with thousands of line dancers all over the world holding hands singing and dancing, including a flash mob performance at the Great Wall of China. Heart Like A Train’s release brings Nancy Hays full-circle, to where she has always belonged – the forefront of what’ s new and exciting in country music.