The Highway Women Divulge Details Behind Their Recent Empowering Release, “Dead Man Walking”

Photo provided by management

As seen in
Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 16 – Summer 2021
Acoustic Amplified!

The Highway Women consist of four powerhouse vocalists, Drew Haley, Kristen Kae, Jess Paige, and Bailey James, and exude an inspiring level of moxie and grit. Their most recent single release, “Dead Man Walking,” only adds to their rebellious image and empowering message. With an upcoming EP release and potential tour, the girls filled us in on all-things inspiration, songwriting, recording, and “Dead Man Walking.”

The band recently added two new vocalists to their roster—Gabrielle Vaughn and Jenane.

“I wanted to expand the band to further build our intense harmonies and bring the band into some other genres of music including blues, rock, pop-R&B along with country music. Jenane and Gabbi are a perfect fit as they bring their influences to the group, including Amy Winehouse, Fleetwood Mac, and Joss Stone. We are excited for our upcoming EP release.” Jill Pavel – Owner

When and how did the Highway Women form?

Drew Haley: In 2016, Dallas businessman Jimmy Parman started the label. He sold the label to our manager and owner, Jill Pavel, in 2017. Pavel took the reins, and here we are today. She is relentless and inspires us to plow forward in a very competitive industry.

Which female artists inspire the sound and spirit of the Highway Women?

Kristen Kae: Oh my gosh, so many. We all embrace different influences from the likes of Dolly Parton, Reba, Amy Winehouse, Gaga, Aretha, and more!

How would you describe the Highway Women’s sound?

Jess Paige: Unique. We all have different solo styles, but somehow, we blend together in a way that no one could possibly reproduce. We are a bit of country, rock, soul, and guts.

You all have incredible harmonies. Could you tell us a bit about your rehearsal process and how you all go about blending your voices?

Bailey James: Sometimes it is easy, and sometimes we call in our “general,” aka Hannah, our vocal coach. We all have different ranges, and we seem to find a way to make it work. We rehearse with our guitar player, and we also rehearse with Hannah. She helps us fine-tune our delivery. It is always good to work with someone who can hear the things we cannot while we are singing.

When writing music for the Highway Women, is there a specific message or energy you aim to convey?

Drew Haley: Whether we write the song, or a song is pitched to us, we always try to embrace songs that are uplifting to women in the form of empowerment.

We love the new single, “Dead Man Walking”! As one of the songwriters, could you tell us a bit about what inspired this song?

Drew Haley: I wrote the song with Randy Bryan and Tabitha Booker. It was originally inspired by Randy, who had recently gotten some scary medical news. He went to his doctor’s appointment, and when he arrived, he simply said, “I am a dead man walking.” For me, the song was more personal as I was having marital problems at the time. I pitched the song to our manager, Jill Pavel, and she said, “Hey, we have to record this; it could be your unofficial divorce song.”

How would you describe the new single, “Dead Man Walking”?

Kristen Kae: Fierce. This was the song that we just let go and allowed ourselves to be unapologetic with our delivery and vibe. We just went into the studio and really trusted ourselves and each other in the process.

What was the recording process like for “Dead Man Walking”? Was it recorded during the pandemic?

Bailey James: Yes, actually, it was. We went into the studio for vocals three times. Our guitarist, Erin Coburn, delivered an astounding guitar track that really challenged us. In a way, she forced us to raise the bar on our vocals, background vocals, and riffs. We had to get creative. This track truly challenged us, but it was worth it. Jill said we are not done until we are done, and she meant it. We masked up, social distanced, and just went in and did our thing.

What was your favorite part of the recording process for “Dead Man Walking”?

Kristen Kae: Well, it never made it to the track, but in one of our recording sessions, Jess, Bailey, and I hit the mic and just had a riff session. Honestly, we didn’t sound great, but we had a blast. It was truly a letting-off-steam sing-off!

What can fans expect from the forthcoming Highway Women EP?

Jess Paige: We are letting go of what is expected from us and just going in and making music that we vibe on. We really want to put out an authentic array of songs that showcase who we are as artists, not who we are supposed to be according to the gospel of the country music industry.

What can fans look forward to from the Highway Women in the near future?

Bailey James: We are working on our new EP, which we plan to release in September. We are also tour rehearsing because we are finally hitting the road this year. Hallelujah and Amen!