New generation carries on the family’s musical legacy
By Craig Harris
Several of the group members may look like kids, but the Mylon Hayes Family now consists of four adults. Twin brothers Conner and Bailey recently turned 18. However, the more important aspect for parents Mylon and Wendy Hayes involves the group’s maturity rather than the ages of their three children.
“There is one song we stage (“He Is All I Need”) that the kids sing together,” Mylon Hayes shares. “Wendy and I stand back. The Lord has certainly blessed our kids. The Lord has used them to be an encouragement to a lot of young people.
“We’re doing a song right now called “We Choose to Stand.” Our pastor called a couple of days ago and said, ‘I want this to be the theme of the youth program of our church. I want our young people to be all in and to take it a step further in their commitment to Jesus.’ Stuff that is happening like that, the Lord is allowing the kids to make an impact on other young people their age.”
The youngest member of the quintet is 14-year-old Kennedy. “Lately, her voice has really matured,” Bailey says of his sister. “It has shown up in her tone. She’s starting to mature with her tones. She holds her part down. She’s been singing the best she’s sung.”
Mylon adds, “We can see a lot of growth in Kennedy over the last year, transitioning from a kid’s voice into more of a mature sound. Just in the last few months, Kennedy has matured on stage and vocally. She’s has come a long way in interpreting the song.”
The 14-year-old Kennedy has been on stage full-time since she was eight years old. “In the last year, I’ve branched out more, vocally and in stage performance,” Kennedy explains. “For a little while, we just stood up there and sang. We’ve gotten more used to it. As we’ve made different CDs, my voice has changed. Every CD, I sound different.
“There’s not that many young people out there doing this. It’s a great opportunity to do that with home school. I’ve been doing it all my life. Without music, I don’t know what else I’d be doing.”
Both Kennedy and her brothers have been on stage in some fashion since they were toddlers, when Mylon sang alongside his parents and sisters with the Hayes Family.
“The Hayes Family had us come up (on stage and sing a song), and that allowed us to get started and get comfortable,” Conner – the group’s bass singer – points out. “So, when we started with our family, it wasn’t a nerve-wracking thing. It took a while to get used to standing there (that long).”
The kids naturally hear harmony. “It’s really come easy for them,” Mylon says. “They’ve heard it from a very young age. They would hear it and sing it … with no prompting at all. Their ear picks it up.
“We’ve taken them to the shaped-note singing schools.”
In addition to their musical growth, the parents have seen growth in other areas as well. “I’m really proud of their spiritual growth,” Wendy shares. “I see their heart for ministry. They get the heart of ministry. That blesses me.
“As a family, we meet together for devotions. We’ve made that a part of our life. We want to live it. We try hard to teach them to set an example.”
The twins are all in as far as performing goes, though it wasn’t something that was necessarily expected. “Whenever we were little, I never really dreamed we would actually do what we do,” Bailey notes. “The first CD was just there to catch our voices before they changed. It was never done with the intention of going to pursue singing … in hopes of one day doing it, but that CD was just to capture our voice.
“The Lord just opened the door. We were able to go to more churches. It’s just amazing to see what the Lord has done, in where we started and where we are now. We give Him all the praise. We stand in awe of everything He has done. It has blown my mind in Him taking what little we did and just multiplied it. It’s amazing to see people respond to the songs, to watch – from the stage point of view – to watch the people respond to the songs we’ve recorded.”
Conner adds, “Dad’s family was a big influence on us. Our granddad believed singing was his calling. Every time us grandkids got up on stage, he made sure we took it seriously. He wanted us to have fun, but he saw it as a ministry. So, he wanted to take it seriously. It’s something I want to take seriously. It’s the Lord’s calling. I’m thankful He would use us to serve Him.”
The group’s debut CD, Wonderful Words of Life, was released in 2012. “The Lord was moving us in this direction,” Mylon recalls. “It happens gradually over time.
“We could tell their interest was there. They always had that desire. The Lord put that there. The boys just love every aspect of it.” Wendy adds, “They always wanted to go (sing).”
After releasing songs off of their debut project to radio, doors began to open. “Once the songs hit radio, we started traveling some,” Mylon says. “We got calls.”
The constantly-increasing travel hasn’t been a problem for the siblings. “I love it (road life),” Bailey admits. “It doesn’t bother me a bit. If the Lord has another plan, I’ll go for it. I hope this is what He wants me to do. That’s what I feel right now.”
Mylon adds, “We talk about the future a lot to our kids, (like) who they want to consider in marriage. If the Lord has other plans for them, we want to be open to that. As I see it, God has put that desire in their hearts. He has placed them under our care. This is our life. At this point, they all seem very fully committed. This is what they want to do.”
Conner echoes those sentiments. “A lot of people ask us … where do you want to go to college,” Conner says. “Being as we are seniors this year, it’s something we are starting to think about. At the moment, I really feel this is my calling to be able to do this with our family. I love every minute of it. If the Lord sees fit to change the direction of that, I’ll follow whatever He wants.”
The group received an enthusiastic response for their evening concert performances at the 2016 National Quartet Convention (NQC).“That was one thing I wanted to do when I was a kid, to get up on the NQC stage,” Conner emphasizes. “We did the showcase and won the showcase (at NQC in 2012), so we got to sing on the main stage for one song. We were nervous. We were more nervous than a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.”
Bailey adds, “Conner and I would talk about that (NQC). We would get up at home in front of mom and dad and do a whole concert. That’s one thing I will never forget (performing at NQC the first time). We were excited.”
All three kids are currently taking piano lessons from their aunt Sharon. Bailey also plays the bass guitar, while Conner plays the drums. However, despite the similarities, all are quite different according to their parents.
“Conner is more like his daddy,” Wendy points out. “Bailey is more like me. Conner is more reserved like Mylon. They’re very responsible.”
Mylon adds, “In a lot of areas, they’re pretty different. Bailey is kind of the leader I guess. He’s the most outspoken. Conner is a little more shy. In some areas, they’re similar. They want to be different. The twins team up (on Kennedy), but she can hold her own … but they do get along well.”
They admit that disagreements do occur from time to time though. “We’re normal,” Kennedy says. “We do fight some, but we do get along well. It’s mostly (disagreements) between one of my brothers and me, but we don’t fight that much.”
“They’re two peas in a pod.”
Conner adds, “We are typical brothers and sisters. We have our moments where we can argue and fight like cats and dogs, but we have our moments where we sit around and just get along. Overall, we tend to get along pretty well. Bailey is the peacemaker. If Kennedy and I get in an argument, Bailey will say, ‘guys,’ and make us take a step back.”
However, their passion for Southern Gospel music far exceeds the occasional disagreements.
“We love it,” Kennedy emphasizes. “We are constantly listening to Southern Gospel music. It’s something I can see me doing in my future, as long as I can. I hope to marry someone who wants to do it with me.”
Mylon adds, “It is fulfilling, very much so, as a father. I know Wendy feels the same way. A lot of it is on their own. They look up to a lot of people in Gospel Music. They observe and are blessed to be around a lot of wonderful people in Gospel Music. They listen to Southern Gospel music. By just listening, you learn a lot.”
Wendy is appreciative of the influence other artists have had on her children.
“God has placed friends in our path, who have been friends for life,” Wendy points out. “Gerald Wolfe has allowed us to come along to the Hymn Sing. That has exposed us to a lot of people who we never would have seen.
“A lot of people in the industry have been encouragers.”
Different artists have influenced the siblings. “I really, really have a high respect for Gerald Wolfe,” Conner explains. “He really helped us out when we first got started. He put us on his Hymn Sing DVD that was in Morristown (in 2014). He’s been a great cheerleader for our family. He’s taken us on tour with the Hymn Sing. He’s been great friend in helping us out in that area.
“Roger Talley has been great as well. He arranged our latest project. They’re great people. We love them dearly.” Kennedy adds, “I’ve always sung along with Lauren Talley. I love Lauren Talley. Kathryn Webb is a big role model, and the Collingsworth Family is a big role model. I look up to them.”
The group’s latest project was a 2015 release, Devoted. They are currently working on a Christmas project. “When our latest CD came out, I kind of felt like we have been a little tighter vocally, me and Conner,” Bailey says. “On a lot of the songs, we sing the same part. When I’m standing right beside him, it’s easy for him to match what I’m doing or vice versa.”
Mylon also serves as a studio musician with Crossroads Music. Even with the increasing demands due to the family’s flourishing tour schedule, he’s enjoying the heavier work load. “To me, it’s more fun now … even with more responsibilities,” Mylon points out.
Bailey adds, “Right now, that’s all that’s on my mind, to pursue what the Lord has put us in. He’s opened so many doors that I would have never imagined. We’re very thankful and blessed.”
Blessed is one of the words that Wendy uses to describe the group’s journey. “We’re humbled,” Wendy emphasizes. “God, you have poured your blessings out
and allowed us to do it. Humbled is the only word I can come up with other than blessed.
“I’m proud of them. It melts my heart. I’m thrilled. I know the Lord orchestrated it and put a love of Gospel Music in my heart. I didn’t think I’d ever get to do something like this. For our kids to love it, it has really been amazing.”
By Craig Harris
First published by SGNScoops Magazine in February 2017.
In concert photographs courtesy of Craig Harris.
Publicity photographs courtesy of the Mylon Hayes Family.
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