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Hayley Williams

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Hayley Williams
Hayley Williams crop.jpg
Hayley Williams performing in 2017
Born (1988-12-27) December 27, 1988 (age 31)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • businesswoman
Years active2003–present
Chad Gilbert
(m. 2016; separated 2017)
Musical career
OriginFranklin, Tennessee, U.S.
  • Vocals
  • piano
  • keyboards
  • guitar
  • bass
  • drums
  • percussion
Associated actsParamore

Hayley Nichole Williams (born December 27, 1988) is an American singer-songwriter who is best known as the lead vocalist, primary songwriter, and keyboardist of the rock band Paramore.

Born and raised in Mississippi, Williams moved to Tennessee at the age of 13 when her parents divorced in 2002. In 2004, she formed Paramore alongside Josh Farro, Zac Farro, and Jeremy Davis. The band currently consists of Hayley Williams, Zac Farro and Taylor York. The band has released five studio albums: All We Know Is Falling (2005), Riot! (2007), Brand New Eyes (2009), Paramore (2013), and After Laughter (2017).

Aside from Paramore and preceding her solo career, Williams recorded the song "Teenagers" for the soundtrack of Jennifer's Body (2009) and has collaborated with artists such as October Fall, The Chariot, Set Your Goals, Zedd and New Found Glory. In 2010, she was featured on the single "Airplanes" by B.o.B. It peaked at number two on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. A sequel to the song, "Airplanes, Part II", features new verses from B.o.B. and a verse from Eminem, while Williams' vocals remain the same. This collaboration led to a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.

Williams released her debut solo single "Simmer" on January 22, 2020, and announced on the same day that her debut studio album, Petals for Armor, would be released on May 8, 2020. An EP preceding the album, Petals for Armor I, was released on February 6.[8]

Other ventures in which Williams has explored include online beauty and music series Kiss-Off on Popular TV launched in 2015 and the hair-dye company Good Dye Young, launched in 2016.

Early life[edit]

Hayley Nichole Williams[9][10] was born in Meridian, Mississippi, on December 27, 1988, the daughter of Joey and Cristi Williams.[6] She has two younger half-sisters.[11][12] After her parents divorced in 2002, Williams moved with her mother to Franklin, Tennessee.[13][14] She met future bandmates Josh and Zac Farro at her new school.[15][16] Shortly after settling in Franklin, she began taking vocal lessons with Brett Manning.[17][18][19] While still at school, she tried out for a local funk cover band, The Factory, where she met Jeremy Davis.[16][19][20]

Music career[edit]

Williams was discovered in 2003 by managers Dave Steunebrink and Richard Williams, who signed the 14-year-old to a two-year production deal.[21][22] At the time she was writing pop songs with songwriters in Nashville.[22] Williams was introduced to Atlantic Records A&R Tom Storms through Richard Williams' attorneys Jim Zumwalt and Kent Marcus, and then signed to the label by Jason Flom.[19] The label's original plan for their new artist was to make her a solo pop artist but Williams objected to this, saying that she wanted to be part of a band and play pop punk music.[7][19][23]

Williams performing on Warped Tour 2007

Atlantic decided to go along with her wishes, and she then formed Paramore with Josh Farro, Zac Farro, and Jeremy Davis.[22] The music of Paramore was originally supposed to come out on Atlantic Records, but the label's marketing department decided it would be better for the image of the band to not have them attached to a huge label. They instead released their music through a "cooler" niche label, Fueled by Ramen.[22] According to Williams, the name "Paramore" came from the maiden name of the mother of one of their first bass players.[24] Once the group learned the meaning of the homophone "paramour" ("secret lover"), they decided to adopt the name, using the Paramore spelling.[19][25] The band's debut album, All We Know Is Falling, was released in 2005 when Hayley was only 16 years old. Paramore has since released four more studio albums, Riot! (2007), Brand New Eyes (2009), the self-titled Paramore (2013) and After Laughter (2017). In June 2009, the band welcomed Taylor York (rhythm guitar) as an official member, although he had already been playing as a touring member with the band since 2007. In December 2010, two of the founding members of Paramore (Josh and Zac Farro) left the band. The news was posted by Williams on Paramore's website, with Josh later posting a controversial blog post confirming their departure.[26][27]

Williams performing in 2010

In 2006, Paramore toured outside of the US for the first time, which included a headline tour of the UK and supporting post-hardcore rock band The Blackout on the Give It A Name Festival in Europe.[28] The following year, she and the rest of Paramore made an appearance in the music video for "Kiss Me" by New Found Glory.[29] In the 2007 Kerrang! Readers' Poll, she finished second to Evanescence's Amy Lee in the "Sexiest Female" category,[30] going on to win the first place spot for "Sexiest Female" a year later in the 2008 poll,[31] and again in the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 poll. She also appears as a playable character in the video game Guitar Hero World Tour after completing "Misery Business" in the vocalist campaign.[32][33][34]

Williams performing as part of Paramore on Monumentour in 2014

Williams wrote and recorded the song "Teenagers", which was featured in the soundtrack for the feature film Jennifer's Body. After the release of "Teenagers", Williams stated that she had no plans to establish herself as a solo artist.[35] In 2010, she appeared on the tracks "Airplanes" and "Airplanes, Part II" from alternative rapper B.o.B's debut album, B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray.[36][37][38] When it was released as a single, "Airplanes" peaked within the top ten in nineteen countries, including the number one position in the United Kingdom and New Zealand.[39][40]

EDM producer Zedd and Williams collaborated on the track "Stay the Night", from his debut studio album, Clarity,[41][42] which was released in 2013. Williams was honored with the "Trailblazer Award" in the 2014 Billboard's Women in Music Awards for making a unique mark in music and paving the way for other artists.[43] In 2015, Williams starred as the 'Crimson Curse' in Taylor Swift's music video for her single, "Bad Blood", alongside sixteen other celebrities.[44] Along with band member and co-writer Taylor York, Williams was nominated for and won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song at the 2015 ceremony for the song "Ain't It Fun".[45][46][47] In July 2015, Williams won the APMA for Best Vocalist.[41][48] In 2019, she collaborated with American Football on the song "Uncomfortably Numb", which appeared on the band's third self-titled studio album.[49]

In December 2019, on her 31st birthday, Williams announced she would be releasing solo music in 2020, with a "taste" of it to come in January. Flyers consisting of a picture of Williams under the title Petals for Armor began appearing in several US cities and abroad. Her debut solo single "Simmer" was released on January 22, 2020, with its accompanying music video.[50][51][52] That same day Williams announced that her debut studio album, Petals for Armor, would be released on May 8, 2020. It was later revealed that she would release an EP, Petals for Armor I, on February 6, 2020, in an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music. On March 19, she announced that she was postponing the release of the second half of the EP, and instead released the song "Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris" featuring boygenius.[53]


Williams is a soprano with a four-octave range.[54] Emilee Lindner of MTV News has noted her ability to sing in the whistle register, and Maura Johnston of Rolling Stone her "acrobatic" singing style. Thrills also notes Williams's slight country twang in some of her songs.[55][56][57][58] Alternative Press wrote that Williams "has more charisma than singers twice her age, and her band aren't far behind in their chops, either."[59] Singer-songwriter John Mayer praised Williams's voice in an October 2007 blog post, calling her "The great orange hope" (her hair was orange at the time).[60][61]


Williams performing at Rock im Park in Nuremberg, Germany, in 2013

In March 2013, Williams announced she was partnering with MAC Cosmetics for the release of a new makeup collection on April 9, 2013.[62][63] The four-piece collection included a bright orange lipstick, an orange nail polish, a shimmery coral eye shadow and a beauty powder.[64] Hayley appeared on the April 2013 cover of Nylon magazine to promote Paramore's self-titled album.[65][66]

In October of that year, Williams partnered with the Hard Rock Café's PINKTOBER charity campaign to raise awareness and funding for breast cancer and its research.[67][68]

In 2015, she launched the online beauty and music series "Kiss-Off" on Popular TV.[69][70]

In 2016, after over four years of planning, Williams launched her own hair dye company, Good Dye Young, alongside her hair and makeup artist, Brian O'Connor.[71][72][73] The colors offered by the company include an orange, Riot!; a pink, Ex-Girl; a blue, Blue Ruin; a yellow, Steal My Sunshine; a red, Rock Lobster; a purple, PPL Eater; a green, Kowabunga; a teal, Narwhal; and a black, None More Black.[74][75]

Williams performing in 2018

In 2017, Good Dye Young launched a temporary hair dye line, that disappears after one wash, called Poser Paste.[71][76][77]

Personal life[edit]

Williams is a Christian and regularly discusses her faith in relation to her music. She has criticized the judgmental nature of some in the Christian community. The Farro brothers cited differing attitudes on faith as contributing to their exit from Paramore.[78][79]

Beginning in 2008, Williams was in a relationship with Chad Gilbert, lead guitarist of New Found Glory. They became engaged on Christmas Day 2014.[80][81] They were married on February 20, 2016.[82] The couple announced on July 1, 2017, that they had separated.[83]

Williams has publicized her decisions against such practices as smoking, drinking, or use of recreational drugs.[84][85]

Mostly starting from the After Laughter era onwards, Williams has been vocal about her experiences with depression, which caused her to briefly leave Paramore in mid-2015.[86] In an interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music in February 2020, she revealed she had suicidal thoughts, but that she was ultimately unable to act on them. [87]


Williams cites artists such as Saves the Day, MewithoutYou, Radiohead, Slick Shoes, The Chariot, Now, Now, No Doubt, Fireworks, Set Your Goals, Tegan and Sara, H2O, Lemuria and The Swellers as her favorite bands.[9] She has noted her admiration for such female singers as Debbie Harry, Emily Haines, Siouxsie Sioux, Gwen Stefani, Beyoncé and The Distillers.[88]


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected details
Title Details
Petals for Armor

Extended plays[edit]

List of extended plays, with selected details
Title Details
Petals for Armor I
  • Released: February 6, 2020[90]
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Format: Digital download, streaming


As lead artist[edit]

List of singles, with selected chart positions, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Album


"Rainbow Connection"
(with Weezer)
2011 [A] [B] Muppets: The Green Album
"Simmer" 2020 21 7 54 Petals for Armor I
"Leave It Alone" 39
"Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris"[96] Petals for Armor II
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

As featured artist[edit]

Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
(B.o.B featuring Hayley Williams)
2010 2 2 2 2 8 2 1 10 5 1 B.o.B Presents:
The Adventures of Bobby Ray
"Stay the Night"
(Zedd featuring Hayley Williams)
2013 18 11 20 22 15 8 20 47 56 2 Clarity
"Vicious Love"
(New Found Glory featuring Hayley Williams)
2015 Resurrection: Ascension
"Bury It"
(Chvrches featuring Hayley Williams)
2016 Every Open Eye
"Uncomfortably Numb"
(American Football featuring Hayley Williams)
2019 American Football
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Other songs[edit]

Title Year Album
"Teenagers" 2009 Jennifer's Body: Music from the Motion Picture[106]

Other appearances[edit]

Title Year Album
"Keep Dreaming Upside Down"[107]
(October Fall featuring Hayley Williams)
2006 A Season in Hell
"Then Came to Kill"[108]
(The Chariot featuring Hayley Williams)
2007 The Fiancée
"The Church Channel"[109]
(Say Anything featuring Hayley Williams)
In Defense of the Genre
(Say Anything featuring Hayley Williams and Kenny Vasoli)
(Death In The Park featuring Hayley Williams)
2008 Death In The Park EP
"Tangled Up"[112]
(New Found Glory featuring Hayley Williams)
2009 Not Without a Fight
"The Few That Remain"[113]
(Set Your Goals featuring Hayley Williams)
This Will Be the Death of Us
"Airplanes, Part II"[114]
(B.o.B featuring Hayley Williams and Eminem)
2010 B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray
(Death In The Park featuring Hayley Williams)
Death In The Park
"Rainbow Connection"[116]
(Weezer and Hayley Williams)
2011 Muppets: The Green Album
"Fox's Dream of the Log Flume"[117]
(MewithoutYou featuring Hayley Williams)
2012 Ten Stories
"All Circles"[117]
(MewithoutYou featuring Hayley Williams and Daniel Smith of Danielson)
(What's Eating Gilbert featuring Hayley Williams)
Nashville Session
"What's His Name"[119]
(Domestikated featuring Becca (Hayley Williams))
Five Minutes in Timeout!
"Wearing Your Ring"[120]
(What's Eating Gilbert featuring Hayley Williams)
2015 That New Sound You're Looking For
"As U Wave"[121]
(HalfNoise featuring Hayley Williams)
2017 The Velvet Face EP
(Tegan and Sara featuring Hayley Williams)
2017 Tegan and Sara Present The Con X: Covers
"Uncomfortably Numb"[123]

(American Football featuring Hayley Williams)

2019 American Football


  1. ^ "Rainbow Connection" did not enter the Alternative Songs chart, but peaked at number 13 on the Alternative Digital Song Sales chart.[94]
  2. ^ "Rainbow Connection" did not enter the Hot Rock Songs chart, but peaked at number 23 on the Rock Digital Song Sales chart.[95]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result
2007 Kerrang Readers' Poll 2007 Sexiest Female[30] Herself Nominated
2008 Kerrang Readers' Poll 2008 Won
Los Premios MTV Latinoamérica Premio Fashionista 2008[124] Won
MTV Video Music Brazil Best International Act 2008[125][126] Won
2009 Los Premios MTV Latinoamérica Premio Fashionista 2009[127] Won
Shockwaves NME Awards 2009 Sexiest Female[21] Won
Kerrang Readers' Poll 2009 Won
2010 Kerrang Readers' Poll 2010 Won
2010 MTV Video Music Awards Video of the Year[128] "Airplanes" (featuring Hayley Williams)B.o.B Nominated
Best Hip-Hop Video[128] Nominated
Best Collaboration[129] Nominated
Teen Choice Awards 2010 Hook Up Song[130] Won
52nd Annual Grammy Awards Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media[131] "Decode" – Williams, Josh Farro and Taylor York Nominated
2011 Kerrang Readers' Poll 2011 Sexiest Female[21] Herself Won
37th People's Choice Awards Favorite Song[132] "Airplanes" (featuring Hayley Williams) – B.o.B Nominated
BET Awards 2011 Video of the Year[129] Nominated
Best Collaboration[129] Nominated
53rd Annual Grammy Awards Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals[40] "Airplanes, Part II" (featuring Hayley Williams and Eminem) – B.o.B Nominated
2012 Kerrang Readers' Poll 2012 Sexiest Female[133] Herself Won
NME Awards 2012 Hottest Female[133] Nominated
Kerrang! Awards 2012 Nominated
Tweeter of the Year[133] Won
2013 Kerrang! Awards 2013 Hottest Female[134] Nominated
2014 Alternative Press Music Awards 2014 Best Singer[135]
iHeartRadio Music Awards EDM Song of the Year[136] "Stay the Night" (featuring Hayley Williams)Zedd
MTV Video Music Awards 2014 Best Editing[137]
MTV Clubland Award[138] Won
Billboard Women in Music Trailblazer Award[43] Herself
2015 57th Annual Grammy Awards Best Rock Song[139] "Ain't It Fun" – Williams and Taylor York
Kerrang! Awards 2015 Best Tweeter[140] Herself
Alternative Press Music Awards 2015 Best Vocalist[141]


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