Local country singer hopes to inspire, entertain growing fans following

Julie Frank

Julie Frank

It would be hard to imagine performing across the Midwest, competing in pageants and fitting in classes, but one SDSU student juggles all three.

Hailey (Soyland) Steele has been singing since the age of 5, and released her first album, “Born to Sing,” at age 12.

“I’ve always wanted to sing,” said Steele, an 18-year-old country music singer. “I’ve always had it in me.”

According to Steele’s Web site, she has been performing for a variety of audiences since she was 6 and has opened for Big & Rich, Emerson Drive, Loretta Lynn, Trick Pony, Gary Allen, Sugarland and more. If that isn’t impressive enough, Steele also sang with Willie Nelson during the grand finale of Farm Aid in 2005.

“Her talent level is amazing,” said Erik Miller, fan of Steele’s and former singer/songwriter for the Watermelon Daze Band. Miller praises Steele for her “rare talent, charisma, and ability to connect with her audience.”

In addition to singing, the South Dakota native also plays guitar and writes songs. Inspiration for songs often hits Steele at crazy times.

“I’ll just wake up and do it, then go back to bed,” said Steele, who admitted to waking up at 2 a.m. to write.

Three of her original songs can be found on her fourth album, which was recorded in Nashville and released in December. The title track, “Don’t Look Back,” was driven by Steele’s experiences, both good and bad, with a modern upbeat country rhythm. The message is to continue on with life despite difficulties in the past.

Besides performing at local events and schools, Steele has also competed in pageants. She was the first Miss South Dakota Outstanding Teen in 2005 and was crowned Miss Oahe 2006. This summer, Steele will compete in the Miss South Dakota Pageant.

If all those activities weren’t enough, Steele is also enrolled in online classes at SDSU, focusing on public relations.

At the end of the day, Steele continues to focus on her music career. She aims to be a performer who positively inspires people. Steele says she enjoys receiving emails from fans she has affected.

“Her future is extremely bright,” said Miller, who believes it takes a special type of person to achieve success in the entertainment business. He says musicians must have the ability to “hang in there,” a trait he sees in Steele.

To learn more about Steele or purchase her album, “Don’t Look Back,” log on to her official Web site www.haileysmusic.com.