Hayley Nichole Williams (born December 27, 1988) is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and businesswoman. She is 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 15 when her parents divorced. 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).
Williams recorded the song “Teenagers” for the soundtrack of Jennifer’s Body (2009) and has made numerous collaborations with artists such as October Fall, The Chariot, Set Your Goals, 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.
In 2015, Williams launched the online beauty and music series Kiss-Off on Popular TV. In 2016, she launched her own hair dye company called Good Dye Young.
Williams was discovered in 2003 by managers Dave Steunebrink and Richard Williams, who signed the 14-year-old to a two-year production deal. At the time she was writing pop songs with songwriters in Nashville. 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. 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.
Atlantic decided to go along with her wishes, and she then formed Paramore with Josh Farro, Zac Farro, and Jeremy Davis. 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. According to Williams, the name “Paramore” came from the maiden name of the mother of one of their first bass players. Once the group learned the meaning of the homophone “paramour” (“secret lover”), they decided to adopt the name, using the Paramore spelling. 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.
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. The following year, she and the rest of Paramore made an appearance in the music video for “Kiss Me” by New Found Glory. In the 2007 Kerrang! Readers’ Poll, she finished second to Evanescence’s Amy Lee in the “Sexiest Female” category, going on to win the first place spot for “Sexiest Female” a year later in the 2008 poll, 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.
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. 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. 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.
EDM producer Zedd and Williams collaborated on the track “Stay the Night”, from his debut studio album, Clarity, 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. In 2015, Williams starred as the ‘Crimson Curse’ in Taylor Swift’s music video for her single, “Bad Blood”, alongside sixteen other celebrities. 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”. In July 2015, Williams won the APMA for Best Vocalist.