Amber Hayes' first movie
“When they picked me up from the airport to go to Stillwater, I didn't even know anybody was in the back of the car.
“I'm just talking to the driver, and I said, ‘You know, I could've just had my family come pick me up' ... and she said, ‘Oh, it's fine, I had to pick Jackson up.' And I turn around and Jackson Rathbone's sitting in the backseat. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,'” Hayes said. “We talked most of the way to Stillwater. He's a musician in a band, so we talked about that. That was neat.”
Catching a ride with one of the heartthrobs of “The Twilight Saga” movies wasn't even the best moment the Oklahoma-born country singer-songwriter experienced during the production of the coming-of-age rodeo drama “Cowgirls N' Angels,” which was filmed in Stillwater, Guthrie, Oklahoma City and Pawnee.
The Weleetka native contributed three songs to the family film and its soundtrack: the uplifting anthem “Right as Rain,” the lively toe-tapper “C'mon” and the father-daughter ballad “Always There for Me,” which she co-wrote just for the movie and recorded as a duet with former Lonestar frontman Richie McDonald.
“I wrote a lot of it in the van coming back from Oklahoma — I was doing a casino show there — and my co-writer (Bill DiLuigi) and I just got in the back of the van and wrote the song,” Hayes said in a phone interview from Nashville, Tenn., where she now lives and works.
“I'd just spent a couple of days with my family; they all came up to the show and everything. You know, I'm very close with my family, and I still spend a lot of time in Oklahoma, as much as I can ... so it wasn't too hard for me to get in that mindset. I can go there because I am that Oklahoma girl.”
The debut feature from director/co-writer Timothy Armstrong, “Cowgirls N' Angels” tells the tale of young Ida Clayton (Bailee Madison), a sassy small-town Oklahoma girl who longs to know her father, a rodeo rider she's never met.
While searching for her dad at the local arena, she connects with the Sweethearts of the Rodeo, a female trick riding team led by rodeo legend Terence Parker (Oscar nominee James Cromwell).
Several Oklahoma musicians and actors were part of making the movie.
Hayes got involved with “Cowgirls N' Angels” when she was preparing to make the video for her single “Wait” with director Steven Goldmann. Goldmann passed her name and music to the movie's producers and made introductions when Hayes traveled to Los Angeles to film the video.
“I thought, ‘OK, having three songs in a movie, that's gonna be cool.' But actually being in the movie is just an added bonus,” she said. “They could've had somebody else come and do it and just used the music. But I'm glad that they asked me to come in and get involved.”
When she first wrote “Always There for Me,” she thought McDonald would be perfect for the duet because “his voice is very warm and it has so much emotion.” She was thrilled when the crooner got to make a cameo as her father and sang it with her in the movie.
Playing a honky-tonk singer, Hayes also belted “C'mon,” the title track from her 2010 debut EP, while the cast danced in the Stillwater club Outlaws.
“When I got there they all had been practicing the line dance for ‘C'mon.' It was just so cool when I was up on stage watching all these great actors dancing and singing along to my song,” said Hayes, who recently finished recording her sophomore effort and plans to release it this year.
She even got to hear the house band on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” play “C'mon” when Madison appeared on the show, and it brought to mind her favorite “Cowgirls N' Angels” memory.
“When I got there and rode over to the set, she was in the car with me, and she said, ‘I love that song. I've been singing it.' And then I get in my trailer and she's pumping it ... outside practicing. It was just really kind of one of those moments like ‘Is this really happening?'