Hayley Verrall has never been one to blend in with the crowd.
Today, at just 25, she’s standing out with her incredible vocals and passionate soul. She’s got a bright future that potentially includes a rise to fame in the Canadian country music scene.
These days, she’s been writing a lot of new music, and Verrall, who is a lifelong Burlington resident, has a new single coming out Friday (Feb. 17). She’s excited to hear what others think about the song I Guess That’s Love, and has been receiving a lot of praise for her unique and commanding voice.
“It’s nice to have people appreciating it and giving it engagement,” said the artist, who has performed at festivals like Culture Days, One Burlington, Doors Open and the Burlington Sound of Music Festival.
She started singing back when she was a youngster. At six years old, she was part of her church choir, and she hasn’t looked back since.
“I took a love to country music, and I have always felt that way,” Verrall said. Attending Lester B. Pearson and then Nelson high schools, she always studied music. Starting out on the trumpet, she later transitioned to guitar.
A teacher at Nelson taught her guitar and encouraged her along the way, seeing the depth of her talent. After high school, she graduated from music performance and business at Centennial College in Toronto.
Verrall credits college for enabling her to pursue music as a career. While most of her fellow students were seeking to produce a single or an album as part of a third-year project, Verrall did something a little different. She launched Singing for Smiles, a program that sees her perform live at senior and retirement homes to cheer up the elderly and those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
“It’s been a lot of fun, pursuing what I love,” she said,” adding she plays at several retirement homes in Burlington, Oakville, Milton, Toronto and Niagara Falls. “I don’t think I would have the career I do, without that, and it’s still continuing on today."
She calls it her passion project, and it’s what keeps her most excited.
Verrall’s grandmother was in a retirement home, and suffered a stroke that paralyzed the right side of her body, including her throat. She knew what she could to cheer her up, and it worked like a charm: she brought her guitar and sang to her. Immediately Verrall said, her grandma's face lit up.
Her purpose became clear: “It’s to sing and create music that inspires others, and creates smiles,” she said.
Verrall’s passion for music has extended into her relationships as well. Her band features her boyfriend Nicholas Begg on drums and best friend Jacob Marshall on bass guitar.
Inspirational and thought-provoking, her lyrics are a reflection of how she feels about life and love. She’s even writing a song about Burlington, the “big city/small town” that she loves.
But it’s her crystal clear vocals and infectious songs that wow listeners and promise a future that is limitless.
Boasting more than 150,000 streams and a new single, she’s certainly becoming a household name in the country music scene.
While she has considered moving to the country music hub of Nashville, where she once recorded, her success locally is keeping her rooted in Burlington.
“I’m excited about my music and I love having the support of my hometown city – it’s great,” she said.
Verrall has already received several awards and nominations for her work. In 2018, she won the Ontario Country Music Association International Award and was named the Arts Person of the Year by the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.
At the time, she said, “Being inducted into the BPAC Hall of Fame is an unbelievable feeling. I am so grateful for the ongoing support that both BPAC and Burlington have provided to me and my music.”
In 2019, she became the first Canadian "Women of Country Music" Ambassador and won the North American Country Music Association International Award. In 2020, she was inducted into the Burlington Performing Arts Centre Hall of Fame, and in 2022, she won the Silver Award for International Female Emerging Artist from the International Singer Songwriters Association.
Songs like Feels Like Summertime and I Guess That’s Love are easy to listen to, and even better to dance to; her powerful voice stirs plenty of emotion in listeners.
Verrall hopes people will take the opportunity to see her at some of the upcoming bar performances leading into festival season.
Verrall said she is inspired by classic country musicians such as Dolly Parton and Shania Twain as well as contemporary artists like Miranda Lambert and Gabby Barrett. Personally, she credits her dad for her interest in music. He sang barbershop, and she grew up singing harmonies with him in the car.
“My friends and family are very supportive of me and come to a lot of my shows,” she said.
Music fans can catch Verrall at several upcoming shows, including:
- Feb 18, 2 p.m. at Tailgates Bar and Grill (Welland)
- Feb 20, 8 p.m, URSA Livestream (Online)
- March 8, 7:30 p.m. at Moonshine Cafe (Oakville) Songwriter Round
- March 12, 12:30 p.m. at Shawn and Ed Brewing Company (Dundas) - Side Hustle event