BURLESON – Cheers and jeers erupted Sunday afternoon in the living room adjoining an area of Hailey Sellers' home she has all but claimed as her personal music studio.
"It can get loud in here sometimes," she said.
Her biggest fans split loyalties on Sunday afternoons, a time when everyone's attention in her Mountain Valley home turns to the Denver Broncos game on television.
It is one passion in her life. The other is music.
Sellers won't ever play in the NFL, but she's hopeful to one day play on country music's most hollowed stages. Her star is on the rise in North Texas and she seems to be unfazed by it all.
"My dream is to play at the Country Music Awards show and at the Grand Ole Opry," Sellers said. "That's something I'm working toward everyday."
She's gathered a following at live music venues in and around Burleson to the Fort Worth Stockyards and has even played at the Hard Rock Cafe in Dallas and Love and War in Texas in Plano.
"It won't be something that happens in a month for me, but I believe it will happen," Sellers said. "It will take some work. I'll get there."
Perhaps a sign of her talent could be the interest Justin Frizzell, the morning show host on The Ranch 95.9 FM and formerly of The Wolf 99.5 FM, has taken.
"He's given me lots of advice," Sellers said. "He's one who actually returns my emails."
She first ran across Frizzell when The Ranch visited Joshua High School for a remote broadcast when Sellers was a junior. She got the chance to sing in front of Frizzell and for the broadcast.
It was the beginning of many opportunities she has received to perform for an audience Frizzell describes as "Red Dirt Roads."
It turns out that a country music career can get started at Target, at least that's the way it worked for Sellers at age 9.
She was Christmas shopping with her mom when something caught her eye.
"I saw a guitar at Target and told her I wanted to play," Sellers said. "They bought me a $30 guitar. They weren't sure how long I would stick with it."
She received the guitar Christmas morning and learned her first four chords that day.
As time passed, Sellers continued to play. Her guitar collection has grown to the point that in her home the dining room now doubles as her music studio.
"We started booking gigs at local places and I was playing for tips," she said. "The audience was my friends and family members at first."
She still recalls her first gig.
"It was my fourth grade talent show at Keene Intermediate School," she said.
Nine years have passed since she was given her first guitar and a lesson from her mother. She even has her own website – www.haileysellers.com – something most of her peers can't likely say.
More than a song
There are some that may know Sellers best for singing one song.
She had been a regular singing the national anthem at Joshua High School for more than one reason. It seems like everyone knew she could sing, but she was also available as a member of the volleyball team.
"That was hard," Seller said. "I wouldn't have a warm-up for the national anthem. We'd warm-up to play volleyball and then I'd step to the microphone out of breath and sing."
She's turned her attention solely to music this year, making the tough decision to stop playing volleyball for coach Craig Bethel.
"He's asked if I could sing the national anthem," she said.
She's paid to sing these days, but makes an exception for such requests.
Some of what she sings are country hits and other songs are her original work. She recently impressed a few members of the high school's staff by her reaction to the death of a friend in a car crash.
"I wrote a song for Heidi [Hunt]," Sellers said. "It took me 30 minutes at the most. I know God sent me the words, because I couldn't have done that."
She recently performed the song for Hunt's parents.
"It wasn't me writing it," Sellers said. "I know that."
A true troubadour
Any weekend evening could find Sellers at a live music venue in Burleson or Fort Worth, or there's a possibility she could be somewhere else you may not be able to find.
"I go around Texas and play at random houses for money," she said. "They'll see me play and ask if I'll play for them."
Sellers didn't turn 18 until last week. She's now old enough to get in to some of the places she plays, but not old enough to consume some of their beverages. So, she's come up with a familiar line.
"I sell it, but can't drink it," she said.
She claims to have played about "everywhere in North Texas," from Aledo, Glen Rose and Granbury to Dallas and areas north.
Some who saw her earlier in her singing career will notice a difference. Sellers' voice has matured and dropped, she says.
"I'm not a teenie bopper anymore," she said. "I don't have that high pitch. I have a more mature voice at this point."
With that maturity she has been able to fit songs performed by her idol into her own repertoire.
"Seventy-five percent of my cover songs are Miranda Lambert's," Sellers said. "I like the way that she's not mainstream. She has that Red Dirt style."
The original songs she performs tend to have a focus not that uncommon to country music.
"They are all particularly about my friends," she said. "They are the normal country music songs of heartbreak or going out around town."
Those same friends have given her rave reviews.
"They tell me they admire me," Seller said. "I think they like it when I sing. They really support me a lot."
It's in the family
Although he may not have bought the guitar or taught her the first chords she knew, Sellers' dad, Kevin, has helped her through the early ropes of the business.
"I call him 'dadager,'" Sellers said. "He's helps to promote me. He sits on email with people all night. We may not get emails back, but that just means we'll email them more."
Her father is an assistant superintendent at the Joshua ISD by day. He's a music fan in his free time, sharing classic rock bands like AC/DC, the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, along with some tried and true country.
"He two-stepped me to sleep with Alan Jackson when I was 2," Sellers said.
Country music runs deep in the family tree. Her grandmother played gospel music on the steel guitar in church. Soon Sellers could begin to get radio play on The Ranch.
"That's the next step," she said.
She'll graduate from Joshua High School in May and then will attend the University of Texas, where she's hopeful to double major in the Austin music scene.