Last May, Stella Hayden released her very first music video. The song, "Mean Girls", was a personal reflection on bullying. Stella wrote the song, with some structural help from local singer and music educator Cathy Mullins. She recorded it at Gray Sky Music here in town and the video was directed by Owensboro native Nick Gray. Naturally, the song got a lot of attention locally. However, Stella had no way of knowing at the time that her debut song would eventually capture the attention of a legendary name in music.

That legendary name is Les Garland. In case you aren't familiar, Les is a trailblazer in pop music- from radio, major record label, Atlantic, and he is credited with launching MTV as well as VH1. He is an Emmy recipient, and his voice is the DJ voice on the Starship smash hit, "We Built This City."

Stella's dad, Blake Hayden, happened to meet Les through a random encounter involving Blake's best friend, Jeremy. It's a long story, but basically Blake was determined to meet "the man who created MTV."  Blake, after much persistence, eventually did. That initial 10-minute encounter led to a decade-long friendship. They bonded over golf and music and have occasionally stayed in touch.

On a whim, Blake sent Les the link to Stella's video for "Mean Girls."

Les immediately took notice and, since that time, the ball has been rolling. Quickly.   The Haydens have made multiple trips to Los Angeles, where Stella has been spending time in the studio writing and recording.

Their first trip was in July of 2022. That's when Stella went into the studio to re-record "Mean Girls."

After returning home from her July trip, Stella went right back to writing.  She teamed up with local singer/songwriter Shawn Brashear. According to Blake, Shawn's been instrumental to Stella's songwriting- literally and figuratively.  Stella writes the melodies for her songs, and sings them to Shawn, who then chords them out.

Blake Hayden
Blake Hayden

In addition to getting to work with sensational, established talent, Stella has also gotten the privilege of recording at Sound Factory- the legendary Los Angeles recording studio that has been home to recording artists like Doja Cat, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Sheena Easton, Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr and more.

What's the next step?  The goal is to hopefully release Stella's brand new music this spring. There are five tracks total and she's got an entire team around her planning when and how to drop her music. Having heard the original version of "Mean Girls" and taking notice of that, I personally can't wait to hear the new version and the follow-up tracks.

In the meantime, Stella, who's a 13-year-old student at Owensboro Innovation Middle, is balancing the excitement of her blossoming music career with the reality of being a teenager in school.

Thursday, Stella took some to time to join us on the WBKR/Window World St. Jude Radiothon to talk about her recent projects and to help us raise money for St. Jude.


We gave Stella the challenge of getting 20 St. Jude Partners-in-Hope by 1 pm and she careered it!  In fact, her appearance prompted a call from Les.

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