Texas Voices: Western Swing Artist Hailey Sandoz Amazes Audiences Worldwide With Her Extraordinary Fiddle Skills

by Bob Valleau on January 10, 2024 in Entertainment,

In the heart of Texas, where western swing music thrives, a talented fiddler is amazing audiences worldwide with her extraordinary skills. Hailey Sandoz, a multiple award-winning musician, has played for none other than Bobby Flores and the Yellow Rose Band and has had the privilege of performing alongside another renowned artist, the multiple award-winning western swing and country music singer, Texas native Kristyn Harris.

Hailey Sandoz’s love affair with music began at the tender age of eight. She heard a friend play the violin at a homeschool gathering and was greatly intrigued. Up to that point, she was involved in sports, so music was different for her. Encouraged by her parents, who recognized her natural talent, Hailey dedicated countless hours to honing her craft with the violin. Little did she know that her unwavering dedication would pave the way for many achievements in her musical journey.

Hailey Sandoz has won numerous awards, including 2023 International Western Music Association Instrumentalist of the Year.

Joining the legendary singer Bobby Flores and the Yellow Rose Band was a defining moment in Hailey’s career. Known for their captivating performances and infectious energy, the band provided the perfect platform for her to showcase her fiddle expertise to a wider audience. Together, they delivered countless soul-stirring concerts that left fans in awe of Hailey’s ability to breathe life into every note she played.

However, Hailey’s colorful career doesn’t stop there. She has had the incredible opportunity to join forces with Kristyn Harris, a fellow multiple award-winning musician known for her impeccable vocals with the guitar and undeniable presence on stage. The collaboration between these two talented musicians has created a musical synergy that mesmerizes audiences and transports them back to the glory days of western swing.

Hailey Sandoz’s exceptional talent has not gone unnoticed. Throughout her career, she has received numerous accolades for her outstanding contributions to western swing. Her list of achievements include numerous awards that recognize her as the Best Fiddler of various competitions and the Best Fiddler in the state of Texas.

While Hailey is known for playing Western swing, she is also an accomplished Celtic musician. Courtesy photo.

Beyond the recognition and praise she has received, Hailey remains grounded and passionate, always striving to push the boundaries of her artistic abilities. Constantly seeking new ways to evolve and experiment with her music, she is an artist who refuses to stagnate, constantly exploring the endless possibilities within her chosen craft.

In 2018, we interviewed Hailey, but we wanted to visit with her again to see how her life has changed and to share more details about her musical journey.

“The past few years have been full of amazing opportunities both nationally and abroad,” says Hailey. “Between playing in two western swing groups and two bluegrass bands, I stay quite busy. In November, I was presented with the 2023 International Western Music Association Instrumentalist of the Year award. It is humbling to receive such recognition for my craft. I feel so honored just to be nominated alongside such high caliber musicians. To receive this award for the fourth time is something I do not take lightly, and I can’t thank the IWMA enough for their amazing support.”

The first major break of Hailey’s musical journey actually began before we interviewed her in 2018. “In 2017, I was invited to join my hero, Bobby Flores and his Yellow Rose Band. I toured with them for four years. Working for Bobby was an experience I’ll never forget. Even though he was such an accomplished musician, Bobby always had time for me as an important member of his band and would frequently pour into me as a musician. In fact, in 2019, Bobby produced my latest single You Don’t Know Me. Over the years, we performed at countless festivals and dancehalls. Once a year, the band performed on a Caribbean cruise with about a hundred or so western swing fans. This was always the highlight of the year. The Yellow Rose Band also appeared many times on RFD-TV’s TruCountry, which is still airing today. (RFD-TV is the nation’s first 24-hour television network featuring programming focused on agribusiness, equine and rural lifestyles.) While I was touring with Bobby on the weekends, I was also attending Texas A&M University. Balancing my music career and a full-time college schedule was tough at times, but it was certainly rewarding. I am so thankful for my time in Bobby’s band. He was truly a legend.” (Unfortunately, Bobby Flores passed away in June 2022 from cancer.)

Hailey has become friends and enjoys performing with fellow Texan and musician Kristyn Harris who was a contestant on Season 16 of American Idol. Photo courtesy Hailey Sandoz.

But touring with Bobby Flores isn’t the only highlight of Hailey’s career. Before Bobby, Hailey met another musician whom she has cemented a friendship with over the years and has appeared with onstage many times. She met multiple award-winning country music and Texas western swing singer (and Season 16 American Idol contestant), Kristyn Harris, in 2013. Hailey continues, “As musicians in the western music industry, we crossed paths quite a bit. When we first met, I was performing with another group and Kristyn was playing more solo gigs. Nevertheless, we hit it off right away. Being the Texas girls that we are, we quickly bonded over our love of western swing, barbeque, and horses. A few years later we hit the stage, gigging all across America. And we haven’t stopped yet! A highlight for us was in 2018 when we got to perform in France at the Equiblues Western Festival – truly a surreal experience. The festival was full of French music lovers who couldn’t get enough of country music! In recent years, we’ve been honored to open for artists such as Neal McCoy and the Oak Ridge Boys. Both of us feel so blessed to perform together, and we plan to continue tearin’ up the stage for years to come.”

Hailey’s personal life took a dramatic turn in 2023 when she married someone she somewhat knew before. “I married the love of my life, Micah Darwin, in May of 2023. We knew of one another years before we met because I went to high school with two of his brothers. In 2021, we officially met while Micah was visiting his family in College Station, where I was attending college at the time. We immediately connected over music, faith, and our similar upbringings. By the following year we were engaged. It is hard to believe how time has flown already. We have settled into married life in Wylie, TX, and it just keeps getting better and better. One of the many things I am embracing about married life is cooking and trying out new recipes. As far as any musical changes after marrying Micah, there has been surprisingly very little except that I get to share it with my best friend. I am still playing music quite a bit. Micah is so supportive of me and my craft.” 

In addition to her marriage and musical career, Hailey completed college and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication, and she applies her degree when she is not on the road. “I graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Communication. I have always enjoyed academics. I think I just love a good challenge. My parents always taught me to be a lifelong learner. During the week, when I am not on the road, I have a job in marketing. I get to work in the paid advertising field which I find very interesting.” 

Hailey loves horses and has been riding her whole life. Courtesy photo.

Although Hailey’s life is full, she will never forget her first love – horses – and her ongoing love of music. “My first time on a horse was when I was 18 months old. I started working with horses at an early age and fell in love with it. While my family did not have property, I grew up going to a cowboy church where everyone had horses. I was blessed to train with many great horsemen over the years, and I have had many opportunities to hone my horsemanship skills. I have a particular love for reining, which is a western horse event that requires precision and agility. While we don’t have horses at the moment, it is our dream to own a ranch someday…and I’m looking forward to continuing my musical journey as new opportunities arise.” 






Cover photo courtesy Hailey Sandoz.

Bob Valleau is a regular entertainment contributor for Texas Lifestyle Magazine.