Teen R&B songstress Haley Smith has overcome major heartbreak to pursue her dream of becoming a recording star. Three weeks before an appearance on the Apollo, which she won, her father was murdered. For this purpose, her new single “I Miss My Daddy” carries even greater significance. Rolling out caught up the Bronx balladeer to learn a little more about her influences and her artistry.
Haley, your music has a powerful message, which is not always the case for young artists. Why is that important to you?
It is important to me because I am a caring person, and I want to make sure that every song that I sing has a message behind it, in hopes that it will help anyone who’s listening that may be going through something similar.
On some performances, you’re singing and on others, it feels almost like spoken word. How would you define your style as an artist?
I am a balladeer at heart, I love to sing ballads because that’s the style that I am more comfortable with. However, I love to challenge myself with other singing styles. I love any song that challenges my capability. For example, in the song “I Miss My Daddy” I was challenged by having to mix spoken word and song, and in my rendition of “Silent Night” we put a hip-hop feel to the song and I even rapped for a few bars! Singing other styles is no problem for me.
Your father was killed three years ago this month. You performed at the Apollo a few weeks later and won first place. Can you remember what that period was like for you?
My father’s death is still very hard for me. This topic is really difficult for me to reflect upon but I can say that for me to stop singing and doing what he loved for me to do is like I’m hurting him so I keep singing, performing, and making people smile.
Speaking of fathers, your new song “I Miss My Daddy” was surprisingly a conversation with a mother about interfering in a daughter’s relationship with her dad. Why was this message important to share?
I want to let children who may be going through this type of a situation know that they’re not alone. And that although not being able to have a relationship with their father is sad but true, it’s not unusual and unfortunately quite normal. I have family and friends that are going through the same thing, so this message is especially important for me to share.
A lot of artists are choosing independence over major label deals these days. Have you thought about which route you’d like to take in your career?
Right now I choose to be an independent artist because it allows me to have control over my image and the type of music I sing. I love the independent route. All my songs to date have been released independently through my family’s independent label, RAYLEY B. Worldwide or through the independent label M.O.U.N. Records. I’m comfortable being an independent artist.
Are there any artists you look up to?
Yes. The artists that I look up to are Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, Adele, and Jazmine Sullivan because the messages they send through their music are positive and empowering messages and that’s how I am as an artist — positive and empowering.
What is the best advice you’ve been given about the entertainment industry?
To remain myself and never lose myself and who I am to the Industry. Never to become someone I am not and stay true to myself.
What message would you like for other teens to take away from your music?
Never let anyone put you down and never let anyone tell you that you’re unable to be something or do something you want to do; follow your heart. If you really put your mind to it and take your time, the impossible becomes possible. Determination is the key.