Inspired by life, family and challenges, “Every Road I’m On” leads this Texas singer to places he never thought he’d go.
Lincoln decided to celebrate the launch of the new Corsair luxury SUV by hosting a songwriting competition that would highlight a winning musician and the car in a series of ads. And the perfect songwriter just happened to be scrolling through Instagram and saw the competition… and the rest is history.
I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Cas Haley shortly after he won the Chart Your Course competition and chat with him about his experience and the car. But before we get to the interview, let’s explore a little history and get to know Cas and his family.
Meet The Haley Family
Cas has been performing his whole life. Born in a small town in north Texas in 1980, he is married to Cassie and together they have a son, Eben and daughter, Nolah. In the summer of 2007, Cas competed in the second season of “America’s Got Talent” and became a local superstar in his community. He performs all over the country these days, but his favorite gigs are here in his hometown of Paris, TX, playing for the people he loves.
Cas and his family now travel together and his wife and kids are a part of the band. When they aren’t on the road they can be found making music, farming, and learning together on their farm north of Paris.
Cassie is currently recovering from cancer. Her battle has been the catalyst for a few of their new songs, and her hope and healing inspires everyone who knows her.
The Haley family’s journey is reflected in their music and the song that Lincoln chose to represent the Corsair is just one example of this beautiful story of togetherness.
And, a Confession… From Me
Living in the same town and being a huge fan of music I’ve had a few opportunities to hear Cas perform and it’s always a treat. So when I happened to see Lincoln’s final four announced for this competition and saw Cas’s name and photo in their update I got so excited. I started following the competition and sharing everything I could to support and cheer him on. Of course, this being a Lincoln competition and me being an automotive journalist just made the whole thing that much more exciting… combining two of my passions plus a local artist? Just sweet!
Cas Haley: on Life, Music and a New Lincoln Corsair
I had a lot of questions for Cas, but we ended up mostly just talking about life, music, learning, traveling, and our experiences.
EM: How did you hear about the competition?
CH: So, I’m not one to seek out competitions. At the end of October, I was scrolling through Instagram and I saw this ad and it was like, sort of odd, and I looked at it and it said “songwriting competition” and it had this very deep, sort of artistic sort of take on it. Like, they’re looking for someone who charts their own course and is doing their own thing. It had a very ‘hero’s journey’ kind of vibe, like going out into the unknown, and facing your fears. I was like, this sort of resonates with me! Then I looked into the few specifics and I looked over at my wife – we were on our way to a gig in Minneapolis so we were at a friend’s place about to go play the next day – and I said to Cassie, “I think we need to figure out a way to record this song!”
I wrote a little essay to go with it. I just had this feeling, and I don’t have that, those kind of things. I’m not the kind of guy that has those feelings all the time. But, I had a feeling about this. And I told Cassie, “We need to do this.” So I got it all together in under 24 hours. We waited for her treatment, we had a videographer friend come and record. And I was about as sure as anything I’ve been sure of that we were going to win this competition.
I had no idea what it was really going to mean, other than the initial finalist prize which was to be included in some kind of video taping/virtual essay and some amount of money. And that’s it. I did it because the ad was resonating with me, and the money. I was like “I think we have the perfect song for this.”
EM: So you already had the song?
CH: Yeah, so that’s what made it all happen. So the song was written in the summer. And it was about our family’s journey just trying to cultivate our sense of presence, and our sense of meaning here, wherever we’re at. Whether it’s at a hospital or its some economy hotel in Nevada or wherever; just to try to cultivate that feeling that we are together and this is our life. You know how it can be traveling… you get home and it still takes you 3-4 days to even feel like you’re home when you’ve been in that sort of travel mode. The song was about having faith that no matter what road you’re on, you’re present, you’re being aware; a feeling that you’re ok is possible. Even if you’re not at home. Even if you’re smack dab in the middle of a tragedy. It’s that. The present moment is always available for us.
EM: I was really surprised to hear you say that this song wasn’t written for this competition!
CH: I know. I don’t know if it could have ever been as perfect if I were to have written it for it (the competition). I don’t think I would have felt that, because there is such a deep personal meaning to the song. What we’ve been through, our adventure of the last 10-15 years of trying to balance this passion, and career, while being able to have good, strong relationships. You know, balance is such a hard thing.
I’m so passionate about music I could go upstairs and you might not see me again. I’m not sure that I’ve figured it out yet, but what I’ve tried to do is meld the two together… My family’s life, my work, including them in my work. As many, sort of, holistic things that I can do to try to achieve time to honor our relationships; spending time with each other.
Since Cassie’s cancer diagnosis, everything for me has been about we don’t have forever. So let’s spend as much time together as possible. And you know, who knows. Cassie is on her way to being cured. But still, that doesn’t mean we won’t all be in a wreck tomorrow or whatever. Our time together and our relationships with each other are the most important thing. Not from a fear kind of mentality, but more from an honoring our relationships and leaving our kids with some memories. That’s what they’ll take with them when we’re gone. And I believe that learning by doing, by being immersed in things, it’s so much more effective. It’s all a big experiment.
EM: So this song that you wrote, that works so great for this competition, is that the one that’s going to be in the commercial?
CH: We met with Matthew McConaughey in Austin, which was pretty incredible. There will be many mini commercials that will kind of build into this whole Chart Your Course idea and then there will be a big commercial as well. So whether it will use my song, I don’t know for sure. Many of their commercials are sort of story, kind of ambiance feeling so I think it might be sort of along those lines.
EM: Do you know, will YOU be IN the commercial or just your music?
CH: I can definitely tell you this. I am IN the commercial.
EM: That’s awesome!
EM: So, you’ve seen the car. I know, cause I’ve seen pictures of Cassie in it…
CH: I’ve spent a LOT of time in the car. Oh yeah. For the last two weeks, I’ve been in the car.
EM: Do you like it?
CH: I love it. I really do. I really enjoyed the [Corsair]. I had an incredible experience filming the road trip. We went from Austin to New Orleans. I got to do some stunt-esque driving, and I was trained by a stunt driver named Reese Millan who did the Fast and Furious stuff. It was so cool meeting him. Also, being in a position where I drive, I’m the main driver. For the last two million miles, I’ve driven. So feeling confident and competent to be able to do something like that was really cool. Then having someone like him gave me pointers and train me on how to drive with the boom camera that cinematographers use and that’s all around you and you have to drive up real close to it and back and forward. So I really got a good sense of the car.
I’m impressed. I’ve never owned a car that is as nice as this one. I was super into the [seat] massagers, they’re really good. And I was really blown away by the seat coolers and how quickly it cools. I mean cool butt, just like that (he snaps his fingers).
The vibe of the car is super quiet inside. It’s truly what they’re trying to be. A sanctuary. They call it the Corsair. Like… air.
I’ve never had a car that could do parking assist. So I learned the ropes on that and it was really easy to use.
EM: Those things scare me.
CH: This thing’s pretty nice.
EM: What’s the sound system like?
CH: The sound system is money. Revel Audio is who they partnered with on that. It’s really incredible.
EM: For a musician that’s an important thing, right?
CH: Oh, yeah.
EM: Is your family excited about this car?
CH: Oh, they’re ready to get this!
EM: You have a van now, right?
CH: Yeah, I’ve got a van, a big box van that we travel in. I mean, it’s nice, it’s super nice. But yeah, we’re definitely gonna step it up!
EM: I want to switch gears and ask you about some of the cool people that you met. You mentioned Matthew McConaughey and this stunt driver.
CH: Matthew McConaughey was one of the cooler ones. They were all super cool. On this road trip and journey, I met with a singer/songwriter/pianist that I’m a super big fan of, Johnny Cleary. He’s a legend and I’ve been a fan for a long time. I met with him. I met with Tank and the Bangas who was nominated for the best new artist last year at the Grammys. They’re kind of a soul/hip-hop/spoken word. She’s got all of those old school New Orleans cues, but sort of spoken work in this beautiful hip hop kind of way. Super cool and she’s so so nice. I met with Ruthie Foster who’s a Texas singer-songwriter, born and raised in Mineola. She was fantastic and gave lots of great advice.
Each place that I went we talked about balance and family and the song and where it could go. So it’s been little bits of inspiration as we move into the recording.
What Comes Next for Cas Haley and Lincoln’s Chart Your Course Competition?
Recording a new album! Cas says they’re turning the farmhouse into a recording studio to get this record done. With everything that’s going on in the world right now it’s good to have a project. Of course when we met the world hadn’t shut down yet, but following along on social media it looks like making music is just a part of life for the Haleys. Always charting their own course.
Check out Lincoln’s Chart Your Course website for great music and updates.
Do you love music? Check out the Ultimate Playlists Inspired By the Cars We Drive