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Country Star Walker Hayes Admits He Isn't Encouraging His Kids to Follow in His Footsteps: 'It's Been Quite Hard'

jcp with walker hayes  kids
Source: JCPENNEY

May 3 2024, Published 6:33 p.m. ET

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Though Walker Hayes has had a bunch of hit songs and is well-known in the country world, he hopes his seven children — Lela, Chapel, Baylor, Beckett, Loxley, Everly and Oakleigh — find their own passions.

"There's a part of me that just thinks, 'Man, how selfishly, how cool would that be?' You know, to watch a son or daughter of mine look up to me so much, and think, 'Man, I want to do what dad does.' But at the same time, I would never encourage any of my children to choose this path because it's been quite hard — and it will break your heart. It doesn't stop doing that, even once you're successful," the country star, 44, exclusively tells OK! while talking about his new collaboration with JCPenney, called Walker Hayes for JCPenney, which features upbeat clothing with down-home vibes for guys who like to keep style simple.

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jcp with walker hayes
Source: JCPENNEY

Walker Hayes has seven kids.

However, it seems like some are interested, including his daughter Loxley who likes to sing. "I have a daughter Lila who is a dancer. She did not want to dance forever, but she loves it now and then. I have a son named Baylor who's a drummer, who is 14, and he's exceptional. I love them, and I love what they are interested in," he shares.

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Fortunately for the "Fancy Like" crooner, his children, whom he shares with wife Laney Beville Hayes, are his biggest fans — but they aren't scared about being candid with him.

"I am very appreciative of my children's attitude toward what I do. They're very honest with me, but I am my worst critic — and I'd say my kids and wife are my second worst, and I love that about them. They're not just fans who are worried about pleasing me with their reactions. But I will also say, while my kids and wife are my second and third worst critics, they are so supportive, and they are very proud of me. After each show, at least some of them, say, 'I'm proud of you. You did a great show. You know, it was really great when you did this and this.' They're very supportive," he gushes.

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"They also remind me that I am more than the song I wrote today. That's one thing my kids and wife are both excellent at — is reminding me that my identity is not my performance because a lot of times I can feel like that," he continues.

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jcp with walker hayes
Source: JCPENNEY

Walker Hayes wants his kids to find their own passions.

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Despite the kiddos poking fun at Walker, he is fortunate to bring them along, making it easier for him to balance his job and fatherhood. "Prior to 'Fancy Like,' anytime I went on the road, I could not afford to take anyone but the band, but now my children and wife and dogs, they go everywhere. Every Wednesday the bus pulls up and the kids go," he reveals.

"And I ask them that. A couple times a year we say, 'Hey, look, we appreciate y'all doing this. You do not have to go with dad on the road if you don't want to.' Because I want them to have their own dreams, and I don't want to take away from them chasing those. For us to be so busy and gone all the time, our life just revolves around me, but they love it. I'm so grateful that they love it because it makes it easy to spend time with them," he says.

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Ultimately, he is a family man through and through.

"I’m not a perfect dad, but somehow, I have an 18-year-old who travels with me. I just think, 'Man, what dad just gets to hang with their daughter like this?' I basically get to do life next to her," he gushes. "And then I have a 16-year-old boy who we go to the gym together. I'm proud of my kids and I'm proud of my wife. And honestly what I'm proud of doesn't really have a lot to do with me."

He adds, "I'm proud of my team. I have a lot of people that I create music with, and we work together. They've set me up for so much success and I'm so excited that they get to reap the rewards of the years they have spent supporting me and telling people that I'm talented and believing in the songs I've written that have not gone anywhere."

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jcp with walker hayes
Source: JCPENNEY

The country singer is eight years sober.

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Walker — who is eight years sober — has a lot of plans in the future, including working on a Broadway production that he's been writing music for. "That's always been a dream of mine," he says. "We just launched a nonalcoholic beer, which wasn't an old dream of mine, but since my sobriety, that's something I wanted to do. There's a lot of opportunities that I get aside from music now that I'm very grateful for. So, career wise, who knows? I mean, the sky's the limit. Also, I'd love to play stadiums, you know, at some point in my life, kind of go on one of those tours in five years."

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Part of Walker's journey includes collaborating with JCPenney on this new collection. "JCPenney was planning for a Father’s Day launch, and I take pride in being a father, first and foremost, even before I’m an artist. Most people when they think of country music, if my name comes up in conversation, it’s not just me that someone thinks about. They think about my kids," he explains. "It’s also where my mom shopped for my clothes growing up. I was there at least once or twice a year to get stuff because I grew out of my old stuff, and so it was really organic, and they were so kind to ask me to be a part of this."

Since the singer isn't a "professional fashion designer," this was a brand new experience for him — but fortunately, he killed it!

"They were able to pull out what I loved about items I already had. We discussed a jacket that my dad wore and handed down to me that I wear; it’s very special and we recreated the jacket. That's just one example of how each item came together for this line. It’s very, very personal," he shares.

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jcp with walker hayes
Source: JCPENNEY

The singer feels supported by his family and wife.

"I wanted to make sure it was a combination of casual and functional. I didn’t want it to become so elevated, I wanted a regular guy to be very excited about these items. If your wife were to give them to you as a gift, you didn't have to fake the excitement. You would actually put it on and go, this feels great," Hayes, who will debut the limited-time men's collection, featuring upbeat classics guys love to wear every day, on stage at the 2024 iHeartCountry Festival Presented by Capital One in Austin, Texas, continues. "They're just very laidback and casual and cool items for multiple occasions."

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Fans can visit the Daytime Village at the festival, courtesy of JCPenney and check out the new collection in-person.

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jcp with walker hayes
Source: JCPENNEY

Walker Hayes is so 'proud' of his team.

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The Walker Hayes for JCPenney collection is available to shop online May 4 and then in select stores on May 16.

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