Although singing was a great love of hers, it seemed acting was more of a calling throughout school. In 1987, Erin entered the Fountain Valley Jr. Miss Pageant and won the Performing Arts Award for performing a comedic monologue from Lily Tomlin's one woman show, "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe." Erin had plans of attending UCLA as a Theatre Arts major. She had aspirations of following in the footsteps of her two other idols, Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett. This, of course, never happened. While attending college in California, Erin realized she did not take the acting craft as seriously as everyone else did. What she did take seriously was her music. Erin knew in her heart that Nashville was where she wanted to be. The real turning point came after a visit backstage at the Grand Ole Opry and a meeting with Mr. Roy Acuff. That was the environment she longed for. She wanted to sing on that stage and knew she had some dues to pay.
Erin moved to Nashville in 1991 with her mother to attend Belmont University as a Music Business major. Since the move, she has interned at RCA Records and Sony Music, recorded many demos for Nashville songwriters and performed at many Nashville clubs. Erin recorded her first independent album in 1992 with the help of producer and songwriter, Lonnie Ratliff. It was a cassette tape compiled mostly of demo recordings and included a song called "Somebody's Angel," which she recently re-recorded. Erin graduated from Belmont in 1995 and was hired by a film production company in Nashville, working with such artists as Garth Brooks, Faith Hill and Janet Jackson in the behind the scenes aspects of live concert TV production and music videos for almost 7 years, but Erin's first love is still her music. She completed her second independent album, Honky Tonk Heaven, in October of 2000. It received great reviews around the world and was a #6 import CD in the UK in April of 2000. Erin released her third independent album, The Circle, in 2001-fourteen cuts of the music she loves, music she hopes would have made Mr. Acuff proud. She is proud to have two duets on that album with Grand Ole Opry stars Ernie Ashworth ("Gotta Travel On") and Jack Greene ( Tommy Collins' song, "High On A Hilltop.") Erin is also very proud of the liner note her idol, Loretta Lynn, graced her with for the project-"Erin is a great singer. Maybe the Opry will find that out someday. I love her singing." This album became a #3 import CD in the UK in February 2002. She has just released her fourth independent album titled Somebody's Angel and is hoping it will be as well received as the others. One of the singles off the album, a song written by Bill Jackson called "The Tree," has already given Erin her biggest overseas chart success to date. A great start for a true Country album!
Erin has also enjoyed a lot of success on mp3.com, a website devoted to independent artists, and has obtained a wide following in the European/overseas market (largely due to the mp3.com exposure,) being dubbed the "New Queen of the Honky Tonk Angels." Erin's song, "I Got the Blues Again," is one of the most downloaded Country songs to date on mp3.com, and it was featured in the Robert Altman/Alan Rudolph film, Trixie, in 2000. She is very grateful to the people of mp3.com and to the overseas and US disc jockeys playing her music. Erin is definitely having fun on her road to the Grand Ole Opry, and if she is destined to sing on that great stage some day, it will be the pinnacle in her singing career not just a stepping stone.
"When it's too Country for everyone else, it's JUST RIGHT for me!" - Erin Hay
Review from Metrocountry.co.uk (UK)
January 2002...Erin Hay-The Circle
By: Ray Grundy
Latest CD from one of my favorite country music ladies. The Circle is a 14 track album containing 4 originals and 10 covers of some classic country songs. The title track says it all about this fine artist. Written by producer Lonnie Ratliff, "The Circle" tells of Erin's dream of one day standing in the circle where Hank Williams once stood, center stage at the Grand Ole Opry. I have a real strong feeling that dream isn't very far away. There are some excellent versions on here of classics like Bob Wills' "My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You," one of my all time favorite songs this one is, and Erin does it full justice with her wonderful presentation of it. Erin credits Dolly Parton as being her main inspiration for singing Country Music and she pays homage to the legendary star with good covers of "False Eyelashes" and "Tomorrow Is Forever," two songs previously recorded by Dolly, with the latter also coming from Dolly's own pen. "Walk On By" was a major hit for Leroy Van Dyke in the early 60s and it even spawned an answer song from Margie Singleton, "I'll Walk On By" and you will be hard pressed to find a better cover than this one here. There are 3 duets on the album as she teams up with Jack Greene for a spine tingling version of the late Tommy Collins' "High On A Hilltop." Opry veteran and Grammy nominee, Ernie Ashworth shares the mic for "Gotta Travel On," a hit for Billy Grammer back in 1959 while Loretta Lynn's steel guitarist, Perley Curtis, is her partner for the excellent love ballad, "His & Hers." Perley has a great voice and according to the liner notes is currently pursuing a solo career. I for one will be listening for his album! Talking of Loretta Lynn, the star also contributes to the liner notes by stating, "Erin is a good singer. Maybe the Opry will find that out someday. I love her singing." Erin also covers Stonewall Jackson's chart topping, "BJ The DJ," as a tribute to Stonewall and also to say thank you to all the DJs who play her music. I don't think they need much persuasion to do that. Erin Hay is country to the core. Forget all the "Nashpop" coming from the majors these days, if you like REAL country music, then they don't come any more traditional than this exceptionally talented young lady. The Circle is a wonderful, 14 track, value for money album, with not a bad track to be heard and is a must for any serious country music fan's collection!
Review from Country Music News (Canada)
February 2002...Erin Hay-The Circle
By: Larry Delaney
While Lee Ann Womack, Patty Loveless and Dolly Parton are trying to keep "real" country music alive among the current crop of female country singers, it is "independent" artist Erin Hay who folks should really be listening to. She is the real thing!! The Circle is Hay's latest collection of pure country music, a sizzling follow-up to her Honky Tonk Heaven set from last year that established her with fans around the world. Unfortunately, most country radio stations have failed to recognize Erin Hay as the best new female voice in country music today. Not their first oversight, mind you. Here, Erin Hay covers a bunch of familiar country nuggets, scoring nicely on "BJ The DJ" (a 1964 hit for Stonewall Jackson,) the Tommy Collins classic, "High On A Hilltop," done here to perfection as a duet with Jack Greene (of "There Goes My Everything" fame,) the Carl Butler chestnut "If Teardrops Were Pennies," which has been recorded by dozens, Ray Price's "My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You," LeRoy Van Dyke's signature song, "Walk On By" and the more contemporary George Strait hit, "A Fire I Can't Put Out." Although sounding more like a 2002 version of Tammy Wynette, Erin Hay ranks Dolly Parton as her singing idol and inspiration, and pays tribute here to Dolly with versions of her early career tunes "Tomorrow Is Forever" and "False Eyelashes." While the album is built around these "cover" tunes, Erin Hay can put her own unique vocal touch to a song and several fresh cuts here rank as standouts on the album. "I Hope You Turn Me Down" is one of the strongest 'hurtin' song efforts put on disc by a female country singer in ages. "Tennessee Moon" is a tear-jerking story song that anyone close to the music business will relate to. "Sometimes I Go As Far," co-written by Shawn Camp with Erin Hay's producer, Lonnie Ratliff, is another scorcher that deserves special airplay attention. There's also a powerful duet with newcomer Perley Curtis on "His And Hers," this one holding its own against the best work of all the great country duet acts of the past. The title track will strike a special chord with most country fans. "The Circle," written by Lonnie Ratliff, tells the familiar story of the Grand Ole Opry stage where everyone stands to sing their songs. Although the song is very reminiscent of the song "Circle Of Wood," written by the late Canuck, Wayne Pronger (recorded by George Hamilton IV, etc.,) Erin Hay makes this song sound very special thanks to her passionate delivery of the message in the song.
Review from Yesterday and Today Records (Australia)
February 2002...Erin Hay-The Circle
By: Steve Reid
The second album from the truest female country singer in existence at the moment. "False Eyelashes" is a song done by Dolly Parton, but not as well as Erin. The old Stonewall Jackson hit "BJ the DJ" is given a great rendition. There are three duets featuring Jack Greene, Ernie Ashworth and the wonderfully named Perley Curtis, one of Erin's band members and a talent in his own right. 14 tracks make for great value.
Review from Country Music People (UK)
February 2002...Erin Hay-The Circle
By: Craig Baguley
***3 1/2 stars***
A new offering from traditional country singer Erin Hay that will please everyone who loves their steel and fiddle in large doses...The material includes several heavyweight country songs which, despite their oft-recorded status, I never get tired of listening to, particularly Carl Butler's "If Teardrops Were Pennies" and the Bob Wills evergreen, "My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You." That superb vocalist Jack Greene joins Erin on Tommy Collins' quasi-gospel "High on the Hilltop," famously cut by Merle Haggard; other duets feature the irrepressible Ernie Ashworth on "Gotta Travel On," and the lesser-known Perley Curtis (who I believe works with Loretta Lynn and is the steel player on this album) on the Tony Douglas tale of maritial strife, "His and Hers." Dolly Parton cut a fine version of "False Eyelashes" years before she became a superstar, and it still makes for a good kicking shuffle. More recent (well, at least, into the 80's) is a cover of George Strait's "A Fire I Can't Put Out"...There's a perky cover...of Stonewall Jackson's tale of tragic "BJ The DJ," written by Hugh X. Lewis (now what ever happened to him.) Of the newer material, producer Lonnie Ratliff's "The Circle" pays homage to the great institution of the Grand Ole Opry. Ratliff also co-wrote the love's-old-memory ballad, "Sometimes I Go As Far"...The Circle is bound to do well among devotees of hardcore country music, and Erin Hay is a proud flyer of the flag.
Review from Country Music Roundup (UK)
March/April 2002...Erin Hay-The Circle
By: Pete Smith
Erin Hay is truly the "New Queen of Honky Tonk Angels." If there were any doubts before, one listen to the southern Californian's third album, The Circle (Westwood International,) will quickly dispel them. A verse from the title track states, "Mother Church of country music, this country girl has paid her dues, I'm standin' just outside the circle, where ole Hank sang "Lovesick Blues."
Certainly Erin has paid her dues, but I feel she is no longer outside the circle - she is right in the middle! Erin never strays from the stone country path as she magnificently performs the standards, "BJ The DJ", "Tomorrow Is Forever," "If Teardrops Were Pennies," "Walk On By" and "My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You." Hay also recalls the halcyon days of "boy / girl" duets with a trio of sterling performances, "High On A Hilltop" (Jack Greene,) "His And Hers" (Perley Curtis) and "Gotta Travel On" (Ernie Ashworth.) Erin doesn't rely solely on tried and tested numbers from the past, she features newer songs too with "I Hope You Turn Me Down," "Sometimes I Go As Far," "Tennessee Moon" and that wonderful title track. My favourite, the new take on the George Strait hit, "A Fire I Can't Put Out."
Review from Christer Andersson (Sweden)
January 2002...Erin Hay-The Circle
Erin Hay is the new "Queen of Honky Tonk," with strong musical influences by Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton. Erin is originally from Southern California, but moved to Nashville (Music City USA) in 1991 to pursue her dream of being a country star. Her album from 2000 called Honky Tonk Heaven was a good taste of what could be expected on her current album. It is called The Circle and is for those who love good traditional country music. Her excellent honky tonk voice and steel and fiddle arrangements shine on original songs like the title track, which is about her dream to one day sing on that circle of wood at the Grand Ole Opry. I believe she will soon stand there like the bigger stars. There are also great covers of classics like Leroy Van Dyke's "Walk On By and Bob Wills' "My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You." They are great uptempos that Erin gives her personal style to. Erin and her producer, Lonnie Ratliff, know how real country music should sound and this independent album shows that. Very good!
Review from McCoy (Denmark)
February 2002...Erin Hay-The Circle
By: Freddy Olsen
Here we have the latest CD from Erin Hay, and it gets better each time she releases a new one. The question for everyone was would she hold to the standard, and I think she did. The Circle is the title of the new album and again she is doing a great job in traditional country where she belongs. Her solo tracks are really great, but beside those, she has done some great duets on this CD - the partners are Jack Greene, Perley Curtis and Ernie Ashworth, all great names in Country Music. Some of the songwriters are, Carl Butler, Dolly Parton, Bob Wills and Tommy Collins. With these great songs and her voice, it is truly music to your ears. I recommend this CD very highly, not just to have it, but to listen to over and over again.
Review from www.ginza.se (Sweden)
March 2002...Erin Hay-The Circle
By: Jonas Ohman
Erin Hay is practically unknown to the general public, but many country insiders consider her a worthy musical heir of Loretta and Dolly. The legends have also shown support and/or lent some of their classic hits to her third album, The Circle. The album is made complete by a few new songs in the same style, written by the producer Lonnie Ratliff and others. It is a great nostalgic trip and a reminder of this great style and is even more importantly, musical perfection.
Check out the artist's website:
1. False Eyelashes
2. High On A Hilltop (with Jack Greene)
3. BJ The DJ
4. Tomorrow Is Forever
5. The Circle
6. His & Hers (Duet with Perley Curtis)
7. If Teardrops Were Pennies
8. I Hope You Turn Me Down
9. Walk On By
10. A Fire I Can't Put Out
11. My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You
12. Sometimes I Go As Far
13. Gotta Travel On (Duet with Ernie Ashworth)
14. Tennessee Moon