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  • Haylie Walter loves to sing country. If she gets paid, that’s nice, but it’s not the most important thing.

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  • Haylie Walter loves to sing country. If she gets paid, that’s nice, but it’s not the most important thing.
    “So much of it isn’t about the music any more, it just about how much money you can make,” she said in a telephone interview. “There’s no heart or soul in it. To me, it’s about the music. I love it and when you have a love for it, you want to do it. I feel it’s what God has called me to do, and I sing at church as well.”
    Walter will be singing at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Fort Scott Country Music Show in Fort Scott Memorial Hall.
    From Coffeyville, she is a 2004 graduate of Field Kindley High School, attended Coffeyville Community College and is a 2008 graduate of the University of North Texas with a bachelor’s degree in business and public relations.
    But her musical career started in childhood.
    “I was raised around musicians from the time I was 7, and started singing on stage when I was 7,” Walter said. “For the next two or three years after that I just did local fairs and festivals around southeast Kansas and northeast Oklahoma and a little bit in Missouri.”
    At 10, however, she opened for the Bellamy Brothers in Grove, Okla.
    “They let me go on their bus and take a photo with them, and they don’t let just everybody go on their bus,” Walter said. “It was pretty neat.”
    The list of performers she’s opened for or shared a stage with since that time reads like a Nashville star directory. Included are Leroy Van Dyke, Narvel Felts, Leona Williams, Johnny Bush, Sammi Smith, Hank Thompson, Fiddlin’ Frenchie Burke, Gene Watson, Buck Trent, David Frizzell, Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright, Jack Greene, Cal Smith, Darrell McCall, T.G. Sheppard, Doug Kershaw, Leon Rausch, Jeannie Kendall of the Kendalls, Jana Jae, the Hager Twins of “Hee Haw” fame, Johnny Lee, Connie Smith, and Moe Bandy.
    All of this took a lot of her time growing up.
    “I’m 26, and for the past 19 years I’ve traveled just about every weekend,” Walter said. “I’d miss a lot of things at school, a lot of dances. My friends would be doing something on a weekend and invite me along, and other friends would say, ‘She can’t go, she’s got a gig’. I always had friends who were very supportive of me.”
    She has formed close friendships with some of the artists she’s worked with.
    “I thank God every day for the people I’ve met,” Walter said. “You have that common thread with them.”
    One of her dearest performer friends is Leona Williams, legendary singer and songwriter who was once married to Merle Haggard.
    Page 2 of 2 - “When she calls me, she’ll sign off with by saying, ‘I love you, little Haylie. Just keep it country’,” Walter said.
    For a time she had a band and played western swing and traditional country around Texas. It was during that time she was able to complete her college degree.
    In June 2007 she was a guest with Leona Williams for the 3,151st broadcast of the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree. She made her second visit there on June 30.
    “I talked to Ron Williams, Leona’s son, in January and said that I wanted to get back on the Midnight Jamboree,” she said. “Ron told me that he was going to host it on June 30 and invited me to be there. I sang two songs, one of them an original by me, and did harmony vocals with Ron’s sister, Cathy Lee Coyne.”
    Walter said that writing music is a totally new venture for her, and something that she wants to dig into more deeply.
    “I’m working on a studio album now,” she said. “There will be 11 tracks, and two of them will be my original songs.”
    The album is being produced by Ernie Reed, who plays fiddle for the Fort Scott Country Music Show. Dewayne Bowman, also of the show, plays guitar on the album.
    Walter played in the Fort Scott Jubilee from the time she was 15 until she was 21. She has also done lead and harmony vocals for Annie’s Country Jubilee Band in Tonganoxie.
    “I’m just a little southeast Kansas girl, but I’ve done some extraordinary things,” Walter said.
    Tickets for the Fort Scott Country Music Show are $10 at the door, with those 15 and younger admitted free.

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