Country music star Walker Hayes shares journey from alcoholic atheist to faith: 'The answer is Christ'

Country singer Walker Hayes from his 'Fancy' video.
Country singer Walker Hayes from his "Fancy" video. | Screengrab: YouTube/ Walker Hayes

Country music star Walker Hayes is crediting his friendship with a pastor for helping him reform his life from an alcoholic atheist to a sober follower of Jesus Christ. 

“I’m eight years sober this October,” Hayes revealed in an interview on Fox News. “I woke up one day when I was working at Costco. I was working at Costco from 4 to 11 and then writing and then playing shows. And man, it caught up to me. And honestly, I had been drinking since I was probably like 13.”

His awakening came before all of his success. One weekend after feeling he was going to die, he quit cold turkey and never looked back.

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“I woke up one Saturday, and I just felt like I was going to die,” he said. “I felt like physically if I did one more day, something was wrong. And so I stopped, and then one day turned into two, and then two turned into a week. And then a week turned into a month. And then I did the whole high on sobriety thing and got into working out and stuff. Kind of traded a bad addiction for some good ones.”

While still an alcoholic, Hayes revealed that he and his wife lost their seventh child, a daughter named Oakleigh Klover, who died shortly after her birth. Compounding the family's difficulties, Hayes lost a recording contract and the family minivan used to transport their six children was repossessed. 

An encounter with a pastor would change the course of his life and eventually convert him from atheism to being a believer in Jesus Christ.

Craig Allen Cooper, the founder of Glad You're Here Ministries, had committed himself to love on the country star and his family during their lowest point. Although skeptical at first, Hayes said he was shown the love of Christ by Cooper, who even gave the musician his own minivan. 

“I lost a kid, I have nothing going on musically, I’m an alcoholic. I’m great at pushing people away,” Hayes recalled. “So here comes this guy named Craig, who was drawn nearer to me. And it was quite confusing. There were a lot of times when I was like, ‘What’s this dude’s deal? Like, why does he love us so much? Like, why does he keep feeding us food? Why is he giving me a minivan? Why is he encouraging me? Why isn’t he like everybody else?'” 

Hayes added, “In the long run, I honestly found out he’s just as broken as me, but he just knows Jesus. He needs Jesus. Every morning he wakes up, he needs Jesus, and Jesus is a light through him.”

The awareness of Cooper’s love began to turn Hayes’ heart toward Cooper’s God. 

“The answer is Christ,” Hayes told Fox. 

Hayes wrote a song about their friendship before he became a believer and recently the unlikely pair wrote a book together titled, Glad You’re Here: Two Unlikely Friends Breaking Bread and Fences.

In a previous interview about the book, the Grammy-winning singer opened up about how surprised he was to be writing a book about Jesus. 

“Faith has taken me by surprise. But it is overwhelming. How well it just fits [with] what I do,” Hayes told 25 News Now at the time. 

“I don’t think there’s anything [more] worth sharing than what Jesus has done with me and the redemption I’ve experienced here on Earth and will continue to experience from knowing Him,” he added in a separate interview with Taste of Country. “That’s it. That’s why I wanna share my story.”

To learn more about Hayes and his music, click here.

Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic

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