Hailey Good is in the middle of a set at the Louie Louie piano bar when her mom, 60-year-old Rhonda, screams, “That’s my baby.” A few years ago, this may have horrified Good, a 26-year-old genre-bouncing neo-soul singer from Grand Prairie. She and Rhonda have a history of trading blunt barbs and getting into arguments, like one that ended with Good moving out years ago.
“We used to get into a lot because we’re basically the same person,” Good says. “She’s just more extra.”
Tonight there is no sparring. Hailey and Rhonda Good are on great terms, so great that they can share a dog named Olive, who, Rhonda is eager to say, is one-fourth Schnauzer, one-fourth Shih Tzu, one-fourth terrier, one-fourth beagle and 100% hateful of all lawn maintenance professionals. Olive and time have made mother and daughter closer, so tonight, Good laughs, beams and says, “That’s my momma.” And the crowd goes wild.
Good is a regular in Deep Ellum but is still new to the music profession. Her five-song debut EP, Same Same, dropped last fall, and she recently launched a website. Good and her producer (and boyfriend) Brad Rudolph are still figuring out how to best present their music onstage as they work on a new slate of songs. There’s an '80s-like tune in the works and an R&B-meets-pop single. This upcoming material will be different, Good insists. More “out there.”
Her talent has caught the attention of fellow musicians, including fellow Deep Ellum singer Alex Blair.
“She’s one of my favorite people to watch now,” Blair says of Good. “Her voice is like, damn.”
The first time artist Westonn saw Good at an open mic, he was captivated by her look (“big, big curls on her head”) as well as her voice.
“She started singing, and I was like, ‘Wow. Who the fuck is that?’” Westonn recalls of that first encounter. “She can do R&B, she can do pop, she can do soul. Her voice is the definition of versatile.”
According to Rhonda, Good came out of the womb singing.
“Like, ‘Ahhhhh!’” she exclaims between bursts of her own laughter and Olive’s incessant barking. “People always told me she was good, so I tried to get her on as many stages as I could.”
Rhonda's efforts to get her daughter onstage meant an array of talent shows, singing contests and musical theater productions. Yet Good lacked the confidence, partly because she struggled with her weight. She calls it a food addiction, and according to her, it stalled her career.
Good auditioned for musical theater roles in Grand Prairie and wouldn’t get parts, she says, despite feeling with absolute certainty that she was the best performer in the room.
“I don’t know if it was my confidence or my weight, but I wanted a change,” she says. “I saw people getting weight loss surgery, so I checked it out and decided to do it.”
Good knows that weight loss surgery is a topic rife with controversy, with critics all too keen to call it “the easy way out,” while the trolls will say you’re just going to gain all of the weight back. But she has no regrets.
“I would do it again, 100 percent,” she says. “What has helped me is seeing the people who have been inspired to get it, too, and how happy they have been with that decision.”
Life after surgery was not easy. Good struggled with an addiction to alcohol, and she says that, because of the operation, she gets drunk five times as fast as she did before the surgery. After she was “roofied” in Deep Ellum one night, Good was motivated to curb her drinking. Her boyfriend helped, too. Good met Rudolph through theater in Grand Prairie. She was rehearsing a show; he was running sound. Their meet cute is what one might expect from a Gosling and Stone movie.
“The power went out at the theater, so everyone is doing nothing waiting for it to come on,” Rudolph recalls. “I was playing guitar, and she comes over real comfortable and starts free-styling.”
Their first date was even better: They jetted to Rudolph’s studio and recorded Good’s first song.
“The chemistry was instant,” he says. “She is the easiest artist I have ever worked with, and artists can be kind of, you know, taxing.”
The Rudolph-Good music partnership has only bolstered their romantic connection. Both have busy lives, with Good working a 9-to-5 selling insurance and Rudolph working unpredictable 60-hour weeks at the studio, among other gigs. They use their time during their late-night recording sessions to talk about the songs Good loves, the songs Rudolph hates, and then to write their own songs together.
The couple insists they rarely if ever fight. Their only disagreement thus far was about production, specifically how long it should take to cut a record.
“I’m a little impatient when it comes to music,” Good admits.
“She wanted to get things done, but we had to take time on certain things,” Rudolph says. “But once we got through that, the bond was solidified because we created something together. If you’re in a studio, it’s all first-world problems.”
Rhonda loves Brad. Brad is awesome, she says. The best.
“He is probably the luckiest guy in the world,” she says. “Hailey is so beautiful. Have you seen her? Just stunning. She gets that from me.”
Rhonda is proud of her daughter. She is proud that she still attends church, proud that she is pursuing her love of music and proud of her work ethic, which, apparently, she also gets from her mother. Rhonda, a TSA employee at D/FW International Airport, attends Good’s shows when she can, even though when she goes to Deep Ellum she feels like “a Shetland pony in a John Wayne movie.”
“When I see her up onstage, I see her eyeing the audience, sizing them up, then giving them what she wants,” Rhonda says.
When she hears what her mother said, Good demurs, but a flicker of joy lights up in her voice.
“I’m glad she’s my mom,” she says. “And I’m just trying to get better and better.”
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