In July Stephanie Hayden released her first single, Blame. It signaled a relatively normal return to a portion of the local recording industry — that of young aspiring singer-songwriters once more recording their music and sharing it with a broader fan base.
The 17-year-old St. Albert country-pop singer has taken the next step. She’s hosting a live Blame video release party Saturday, Oct. 16 at St. Albert United Church. For those preferring virtual time, it will also stream on YouTube and Instagram.
Hayden is amped up and aiming for a 30-minute performance, something she has been working toward for years. At the age of 11, she won the St. Albert’s Got Talent competition. Two years later, she competed against some of Alberta’s top country talent at Big Valley Jamboree. Lately, she has stayed closer to home, giving performances at Mustard Seed Church, Blackbyrd Café, and Blakbar Tavern.
But for Hayden, there’s a genuine satisfaction in releasing Blame, a kick-butt anthem of a young woman dumping a past boyfriend and asserting her identity. In the video, the singer-songwriter's vindication is complete as her current flame, Connor Richot, plays the role of a bounced boyfriend.
“Some guys think it’s OK to screw you over. Blame is very upbeat, very sassy. It’s a good song to blast in the car in the summer,” Hayden laughed.
Filmed in a rural area near Barrhead, the video brings the outdoors into play. More importantly, it melds both facets of country and pop in a cinematic form.
“The scenery gives off a country vibe and the song has a pop vibe,” said Hayden, who plans to release two more singles. I’m Not OK is slated for a mid-November release while Off the Ground follows shortly afterwards.
At an early age, she discovered singing songs was a sure-fire way to communicate one’s deepest feelings and convey the normally inexpressible.
“It really helped me connect with people in a way I can’t in other ways. I feel I can talk to them, but on a bigger scale.”
Hayden is also one of many teenagers who struggle with depression and anxiety. Writing songs became an outlet, a way to reach others.
“I didn’t talk very much about it and kept it inside. It’s not good to keep things inside. Writing songs helped me to maintain relationships,” she said. “In I’m Not OK, I let people know I struggle and it’s OK if you [do], too.”
During the time she wrote I’m Not OK, an elementary school acquaintance committed suicide. Although he was not a close friend, the tragedy still shocked her.
“This song is about awareness. It’s about checking on people. It’s making sure people you love are OK and it’s about being there for them.”
In addition to singing popular music, Hayden has also studied classical music and performed in musicals with St. Albert Children’s Theatre and at Victoria School of Performing Arts, a school she has attended since Grade 7.
“I used to think I was going into musical theatre. But I’ve gone in the direction of pop-country. It’s easier to get my voice across. It’s what I want people to hear. It’s harder to do that when you’re playing a character."
The free video release party runs from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. St. Albert United Church is at 20 Green Grove Drive.