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Haley & Michaels on What It Takes to Be a Country Duo: 'Strong Chemistry' in Vocals & Marriage
There's a definite buzz in the industry around Haley & Michaels. Just this week, the country duo's music was named to "Hoda's Playlist" on the Today show, which resulted in a sales bump of close to 2,000 copies in one day.
Comprised of husband-and-wife Shannon Haley and Ryan Michaels, the duo (who grew up within 3 miles of each other in California but didn't meet until moving to Nashville) has been working at building their career since moving to Music City in the early part of the decade. Due to their hard work, determination and perseverance, 2015 has been a banner year so far. Their current single, "Giving It All (To You)," is getting airplay on SiriusXM's The Highway ( as well as powerhouse radio stations such as KKGO in Los Angeles and KRTY in San Jose), and they have sold more than 100,000 downloads of their singles.
Billboard recently had a chance to catch up with the rising act and find out five of the main ingredients for building a successful duo -- and keeping their marriage fresh.
Have a strong vocal chemistry together.
The duo says that upon meeting each other, a musical connection was very apparent. "We had a really strong chemistry between our voices, and we wanted to expand on that," says Haley. "I think that's what people have responded to -- whether it's support that we have gotten from the industry or fans, I think they are responding to each of us having a voice and being an equal part of the duet."
Be supportive of each other's talents.
Both are true fans of what the other brings to the musical table. Of Haley's power as a songwriter, Michaels says, "Shannon is truly a songwriter at heart. She's probably writing a song right now. She writes all the time, every day. There's not really a structure to it. Something that she does better than anyone I've ever written with is the fact that she can see a movie or a TV show and get attached to a character. She will write a whole song based on two characters. It feels like it happened to her. I think that's her ability to relate to people. I think if you can do that -- whether that's your own experiences or someone else's, I think that's an incredible strength on her part."
There's nothing wrong with being a fan.
Whether opening for veteran acts like Martina McBride and Clint Black or meeting some of their heroes, Michaels says they likely wouldn't be doing what they are if they didn't love it. "We met Garth and Trisha recently. That was such an amazing highlight, and we were definitely not cool in the moment. He asked us who our influences were, and we said something like 'Well, you…' It was not well-composed at all. Last week, we got off stage at Live Nation, and they had been very supportive of us by offering us several dates this summer. We were backstage listening to Lee Brice and Carrie Underwood. It's just kind of surreal to have those things happen. We're such huge fans of those people, and to be able to play the same places as those people -- we're still pinching ourselves."
Be grateful for all the opportunities that come your way.
Both are quick to credit SiriusXM's John Marks for much of their success. "When we first sat down with John, and he offered to play our first single on The Highway, we had no idea how that would impact our career or our lives as a whole. It's given us an amazing platform to share our lives and our music -- as well as a chance to have our songs be heard. We've seen it completely transform everything," said Haley. "All you can ask for is a chance for people to hear you and let the fans decide," Michaels adds. "That's what SiriusXM has done -- they have given us a chance. People have been coming out to our shows after hearing us there for the past month. It's really changed our lives."
Enjoy the career climb -- together.
Haley says that they are both committed to each other – and their career, so there's not a lot of separation between the two. "There's not a whole lot of time for us to be just husband and wife right now. We are putting our career first, and the good news is that we both agree with that. Because we are both making music, it's our greatest passion as a couple and as musicians." Michaels echoes those thoughts, saying, "It's all kind of the same thing. When good things happen, or when we're fans backstage watching our favorite artists, those are things we're getting to do to together that most people wouldn't get to do. It's all about departmentalizing and making time -- which is true with any relationship. We have a show at Joe's in Chicago and some radio visits the next day, so I asked her 'Why don't we get up there the night before and go to dinner in Chicago?' So if we can enjoy the touring together and take a few hours for each other, that's something we're always working on."