Star of 'The Goldbergs' ready to sing for Houston

Photo by Diane Ragland

Hayley Orrantia has become a household name thanks largely in part of her portrayal as Erica Goldberg star of the ABC hit sitcom The Goldbergs. If you don’t already know by now, the series is set in the 1980s in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, with a geeky and movie obsessed youngest child Adam along with his older brother Barry, parents Beverly (Wendi McClendon-Covey) and Murray (Jeff Garlin), their grandfather Pops (George Segal) and, of course, Hayley — the oldest of the kids, who is also the trendiest and has become one of the most popular characters on the show, which is now in it’s fifth season (Wednesdays at 7 p.m.) and heading for a sixth.

On March 7, The Goldbergs overtook Modern Family as ABC’s top place sitcom for the first time in nine years. But what you may not know is the fact that Hayley has an incredible singing voice, always has, and is now ready to share it with the world during her first ever “Strong, Sweet & Southern Tour,” which comes to Houston on Friday, April 6 to the White Oak Music Hall at 7 p.m. Tickets for this all ages concert are just $25 and are available online at whiteoakmusichall.com.

Born in North Texas and raised as an only child in the Dallas area, Hayley began singing professionally and songwriting at 13. She then sang background on numerous Disney albums then hit mainstream television as a part of the all girl group Lakoda Ryane, which placed in the Top 10 on the first season of The X Factor in 2011.

Recently, Hayley has been working with some of Nashville’s top producers and songwriters such as Corey Crowder (Chris Young), Mark Bright (Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flats), and Liz Rose (Taylor Swift). Social media buzzed when she posted on YouTube original songs like “Who Am I,” “Love Sick,” “Until Then,” “Hasta Verte,” “Strong, Sweet & Southern” on and “Give Me Back Sunday,” which premiered on Radio Disney.

After hearing Hayley’s tunes, she definitely belongs on Country/pop radio. The Strong, Sweet & Southern 20-performance tour that begins April 5 will likely be the next step for the 24-year-old to etch her rightful spot in a crowded jukebox.

It hasn’t always been easy for her. Just last summer she had vocal surgery in which doctors removed a polyp on her vocal chords. One year later, she continues to improve.

The Southeast Texas Entertainment Guide got an exclusive phone interview with Hayley, who now spends time between Nashville and Los Angeles.

What type of music did you normally listen to while growing up in Texas?

I definitely gravitated toward R&B growing up. I enjoyed listening to country, but it wasn’t something I sang from the get-go. I sang R&B pop kind of soul music. Once I was on the X Factor and put into a country-pop girl group, I realized it was a lot more in the vein of what I should be doing as a songwriter.

Is it is more difficult to write an original country song?

It was actually the easiest part for me. When it came down to me actually sitting down as an artist and trying to write original music, everything ended up coming out very country. It was something I couldn’t ultimately deny. When you sit down and write this naturally, the story you want to tell, the sounds even gravitated toward that direction. It was something I really couldn’t fight.

How excited were you to be able to sing as your character Erica Goldberg on the show?

I was excited because that wasn’t a part of my character originally. I brought it up to the writers as ‘hey, if there is ever a chance for me to sing that would be fun.’ One thing led to another and now my character is fully invested in music. I can’t give too much away but at the end of this year you’ll learn that Erica is going to be doing a lot more of that. It combines the two things that I love most.

What inspired you to write “Give Me Back Sunday?”

I really had a lot of fun writing this song and couldn’t wait to put it out. It really told the story of moving out to Los Angeles to work on The Goldbergs. I didn’t realize how much I would miss home. Growing up in Texas was amazing, but I wanted a little bit of a change. It wasn’t until I got that change that I realized I missed a lot of things about home in Texas. I wrote that with Jason Saenz, who is from Texas, and Todd Clark. It was produced by Mark Bright, also a fellow Texan, and they really got what I was going for in that song and feeling.

How do you have time for music while filming a popular TV show?

Music and acting requires your undivided attention and effort. It’s all about timing. To make it in either of those, you have to have passion and to balance the two of those can be a little difficult. When it comes to music, it really is a year around thing. A record label not only wants you to spend a part of the time writing and recording, you have to spend the summer touring. That’s impossible because I spend most of the time on set filming, but I have been able to make it work for myself. If it wasn’t for the show, I wouldn’t be able to write or record music. In a weird way I kind of use them to balance each other.

Have you faced any challenges of being taken seriously in the music industry?

Absolutely. Especially in country music, there have been a lot of people who have come from television or movies who have decided to do county music and haven’t necessarily hit it the way they thought that they would. It didn’t help me, as far as paving the way, for me to do what I do. A lot of people don’t know this but the only reason I got into acting was because the record labels told me it was the only way to get signed because that way I would have a platform. The irony of the whole thing is now labels tell me I really don’t have the time for music. Music is the one thing that comes most naturally to me and I refuse to let a record label put me in a box. This tour is a great opportunity for me to take the music I have written, produced on my own and put my heart into and show that. If it works, it works. If not, I’m happy I got the opportunity to do it.

Do you have a setlist ready for the tour?

I’ll be performing the songs I have already recorded as well as new ones I’ve had to hold on the backburner due to production of the show. I’ve even written new ones in the last couple of months that I will do as well as some cover songs that have inspired me to write.

How much did the vocal surgery take a toll on you?

It really has hit me harder over the last month than it did when I originally had the surgery back in June 2017. Recovering from that was a lot harder than anyone had helped me anticipate. When you actually talk, it’s more damaging on your voice than it is to sing. I guess I haven’t been using my voice properly and tire it out. The hardest part is not going out and being social. I’ve been going to a vocal coach and it has been a process and something I am very nervous about but I have to keep pushing

What can fans expect from you on this tour?

They can expect some very honest music from myself and the girl who is opening for me — Brennley Brown. She is the sweetest thing. Brennley is 16 years old and was on The Voice. I think we both are very dedicated not only to just creating music that is fun to listen or dance to, I personally am about writing songs that lyrically tell a story that hit home with other people. For me, the best music is when I am in the car and hear a song that just so closely relates to what I am going through that it brings me to tears. That to me is a big accomplishment when I hear someone say “oh my gosh this song helped me get through something” or “it brought up a lot of emotions for me.”

In closing, has it hit you yet that you are a part of a highly successful TV show?

It comes in waves for me. We are really lucky that we are five seasons in and about to be six and there are sometimes I forget that I am on a show. I am so thankful to be a part of a show that not only I enjoy working on but one that touches the lives of a lot of different people.

The 411

When: Friday, April 6

Where: White Oak Music Hall (2915 N. Main, Houston)

Doors: 7 p.m.

Tickets: $25

 

Chad Cooper is the editor of the Southeast Texas Entertainment Guide. Email: cooper [at] theexaminer [dot] com

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