Shannon Haley and Ryan Michaels’ paths crossed many times throughout their childhoods, growing up just three miles apart in the Bay Area, but they never noticed each other.
Haley, raised in Los Altos, and Michaels, a Palo Alto native, both shared a love for music that eventually led to them meeting in Nashville and performing together as a country duo. The two married in 2015 and have released two albums; the latest, “Hail Mary,” features the hit single of the same name.
The song has been streamed more than 1.5 million times on Spotify and the duo performed it live at Levi’s Stadium during halftime of a San Francisco 49ers game. They also made the video for “Hail Mary” at Levi’s – a dream come true for two longtime 49ers fans.
“Feeling the support from the 49ers, it’s almost like we could just retire now, because I don’t know if there’s anything cooler,” Michaels said.
In November, they performed the song live on NBC’s “Today” show. It marked the duo’s second appearance on the program. In 2015, they played “Giving It All to You,” a song composed of their wedding vows, after “Today” host Hoda Kotb discovered the song and invited them to New York City. Michaels said that appearance was a boost to their career.
“The whole reason we want to be in music is because we want to connect to other people, in the same way that music has done for us,” Haley said. “To know that a song that we wrote is having that effect on other people is a complete dream come true.”
Since then, the couple have released a number of popular singles they have performed throughout the country and continue to write new songs. According to Haley, inspiration comes from “living life and being honest and open and writing about it.”
The pair is still based in Nashville, the place where they met in 2011.
There’s a chance they met as kids – Michaels’ family owned Music World in Sunnyvale, where Haley often purchased sheet music for piano – but neither remembers doing so.
Following a dream
Haley first studied music at Pinewood School then later at Los Altos High School, where she joined the Main Street Singers. She majored in opera at UCLA.
Michaels discovered a love of music as a child as well.
“I grew up around all of the musicians who worked at the store,” he said. “From the time I was growing up, music was always a part of my journey.”
While Haley was studying opera during the week and performing at nearby country bars on weekends, Michaels had already moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University, a place he described as “a campus of musicians and songwriters.”
Haley relocated to Nashville after graduating from college to follow her dream of becoming a singer-songwriter.
“This community is just so tight-knit, open and accepting here in Nashville,” she said. “It’s the songwriting that’s the main reason I wanted to come.”
Haley and Michaels both started out as solo artists, and a guitar player who performed with both musicians introduced them. The two bonded over their Bay Area roots and soon started working together. Haley said there was an “instant chemistry.”
Their first single, “The Price I Pay,” was a process of discovery for both of them. Michaels said it served as a template for their musical style.
Both said they wouldn’t be where they are today without the encouragement of their families, Bay Area supporters, teachers, coaches and friends.
Of course, their passion and love for the music played an integral role as well.
“By not doing what you’re passionate about, it feels like beating your head against a brick wall.” Michaels said. “Every rejection is just a bump in the road when we feel like we’re doing what we’re meant to be doing.”
For more information on the duo, visit haleyandmichaels.com.