Walker Hayes + Real-Life ‘Craig’ Share Faith Journey on ‘Today’ [Watch]
The book, which Moody Publishers released on May 3, details the powerful story of Hayes’ journey to faith, which was brought on by his friendship with Cooper, a local pastor.
As Hayes also details in his song, “Craig,” from his 2017 album, Boom, the singer was dealing with alcoholism, the loss of a child and the loss of a record deal when Cooper came into his and wife Laney's lives. The book is titled after what Cooper said to Hayes when he attended his church for the first time — "I'm glad you're here" — a moment that is also detailed in the song. Hayes shared with hosts Hoda Kotb and Willie Geist that he “needed to feel welcome” during that hard time, and Cooper’s friendship offered that and so much more.
"Nashville beat me up, I was an alcoholic, Laney and I had lost a kid; it was tough, and Craig’s — the unconditional love [from] Craig and his family truly changed my life," he says. "We saw Jesus in them so clearly. And that’s coming from an atheist, so that’s wild. And again, it’s just wild that we’re sharing a book about Jesus."
"We’re neighbors now, it’s insane, and I love this guy, I love his family, and I’m just glad we get to do life together," he adds.
Part of the "unconditional love" Cooper and his family offered to Hayes' family was gifting them a new minivan after their car got repossessed. Although Cooper came to Hayes' assistance during a hard time, the pastor says their relationship goes both ways, and Hayes has been there for him many times as well.
"Walker and Laney and their family have been with us in our hardest times, and they have lifted us up," says Cooper. "It's just been a friendship, I think, that is from heaven."
The book shares Hayes' story of redemption and his life-changing friendship with Cooper, but it also aids in the singer's goal of spreading his story and the message of his faith through his platform as an artist.
"I truly feel like I've been given this platform, this stage to share this message," he says. "The timing of it has been all Lord-orchestrated."
"We just have a great platform to share this message of vulnerability, friendship and just strangers becoming neighbors," he adds.
Glad You're Here is available now.