Walker Hayes celebrates his 39th birthday on Dec. 27, with the singer at the tail end of a life-changing year.
His career has been picking up steam since the 2017 release of his single, "You Broke Up With Me," which was followed by his debut album, boom., in December of that year. This year, he's continued to release music, including new single "'90s Country," and has opened for artists like Kelsea Ballerini, along with helming his own Good As Gold Tour. He's also gearing up for a big 2019, as he's set to head out in his headlining Dream on It Tour.
Read on for a few facts you might now know about Hayes!
After Hayes lost his first record deal years ago, he took a job at Costco stocking shelves, which he called "humbling and embarrassing."
“Costco was good to me, and I did a lot of thinking,” he told CMT.com. “It was very humbling, and it was embarrassing. It would have been easier had I not gotten the job in the town where I was trying to make it in. I saw people who worked at the labels I’ve been signed to, and we would look each other in the eye. It was awkward because they probably thought I was crazy.”
Eventually, he received a call from Nashville hitmaker Shane McAnally, who told Hayes he wanted to make a record with him.
“He said, ’I don’t even know what this looks like, but I want to make a record with you,'" Hayes recalled. "And we cried. That’s all I could say. I felt rescued immediately.”
Back in 2014, Jill Duggar became engaged to now-husband Derick Dillard, and Hayes was on hand to serenade the couple during the romantic proposal with a song he had written about their relationship, surprising the pair as they took a walk in a park.
Naturally, the moment was captured on the Duggar family's original TLC show, 19 Kids and Counting.
In addition to his musical talent, Hayes is a pretty proficient juggler, showing off his skills in a musical.ly post last year with a handful of lemons while one of his songs plays in the background.
Hayes' song "You Broke Up With Me" finds the protagonist telling his ex that they can't get upset about anything he's doing because they were the one to initiate the breakup. According to Hayes, a romantic relationship wasn't exactly the inspiration behind the song, with the singer telling a crowd at Whiskey Jam in Nashville that the tune was inspired by "fair-weather friends."
"I lost a record deal about six years ago and a s— ton of people disappeared," he explained. "Now they all wanna write with me and I'm like, 'Man, y'all broke up with me.'"
Hayes attended a small liberal arts college in Birmingham, Alabama, explaining to PEOPLE that his decision to major in piano really came out of a decision to pick something that would get him through college.
While in school, he was teaching himself to play guitar and started performing country covers in a local bar. Though he planned to work with his dad in real estate, he eventually left that plan behind and moved to Nashville to chase his dream.
Making me feel like 90’s Country ?? pic.twitter.com/1ytxUh6o5r— Walker Hayes (@walkerhayes) December 11, 2018
Hayes and his wife, Laney, were high school sweethearts, tying the knot in 2004. They now share six children, though Hayes told PEOPLE that they had planned on four, and Laney homeschools them all.
He also credits his wife for believing him and inspiring him to pursue his dreams, explaining, “Her faith in my gifts and my talents are beyond my own faith in them.”
“Everybody thinks I’m crazy having six kids and chasing this dream,” he added. But he tells his wife, “You’re crazier than anybody because you married me, and you’re still around for all this.”
The singer shared with Female First that he and Laney never have a difficult time dressing up for Halloween since they've been dressing as the same thing — pumpkins — for the past 10 years.
Hayes told Sounds Like Nashville that one of his favorite places in Music City is any Puckett's location thanks to the generosity of one of the chain's restaurants.
"I played a residency 'Walker Wednesdays' for many years at Puckett’s Boathouse in Franklin," he recalled. "And every Wednesday, they fed each and every one of my kids and my wife and me. It’s a great environment, it’s in Franklin. There’s one in Nashville too, but it’s great food and I suggest going there."
Hayes was first signed to Capitol Records in Nashville and released two songs, "Pants" and "Why Wait for Summer." "Pants" made it to No. 60 on the Billboard charts back in 2010, while Hayes' second song was released in 2011 before Hayes' album was shelved and he was dropped from the label.
Photo Credit: Getty / Mat Hayward