Haley Bonar has been releasing music under her birth name for over a decade now, most recently with last year’s excellent Impossible Dream. But today, in an announcement intentionally made on International Women’s Day, she’s announced that from here on out she’ll put out music as simply HALEY. She’s changing her legal name as well, to Haley McCallum, after her grandfather’s last name. The decision to do so is multifaceted, but in part does have to do with the unfortunate reality that her last name is close to that of a slang term for an erection. She explains her decision in a statement, which you can read below:
An Act of Peace.
?I was born in the 1980’s and without question, my sisters and I were given my father’s last name- a good, Scottish name that goes back centuries, and existed in the realm of our heritage until right around the time I was born, when the surname became strikingly similar to a slang term for an erection. Humiliation and degradation by cruel people has been a part of my life since childhood because of this (and whatever else about me that didn’t fit the “mould”), which I have fought by learning to tune out the harsh criticism and the art of correcting the mispronunciation.
Over the course of my career, I have released 9 albums and then some under my paternal name, and though I have enjoyed what I consider a fair amount of success, I have come to realise that my name is often a distraction, in a negative way, from the actual work itself. Of course, this isn’t new- but so often we have to arrive at something in order to look back. The arrival comes at a time when so much about the world feels uncertain, and because of that, the pull to morph into the fullest, most true version of myself is even more absolute.
I have been working my whole life at assimilating myself in the world as a woman, constantly questioning the social constructs that create the atmosphere surrounding the meaning of what it is to be female in modern society. One of the greatest lessons that I have learned has been firmly rooted in the relationship to the women in my family- as a mother, daughter, granddaughter, sister and niece. The strong women who have given me life, friendship, guidance, and support to always be myself, no matter what, have shaped who I am at my core, and with that, given me the ability to teach my daughter the same values.
These thoughts have drawn the path toward my decision to change my surname to reflect and honor my maternal family. Let’s face it folks, we all come from a vagina! The mother’s body does all of the work from conception, incubating a human being and painfully, beautifully birthing that human out into the world. The superpowers of a woman’s body are astonishing.
My grandfather’s name- McCallum- another name borne of sturdy, Scottish blood- means “a person of peace”. I want to be at peace with myself, as do most of us on a daily basis in life. I want to progress toward what feminism truly means to me by shedding a cultural custom that need not apply anymore. This seems like a positive way to change something about my roots without losing a part of myself or my lineage in the process. I want to lay to rest the association with trauma from my past, and the continuation of needless stress from judgement, in order to move forward.
With that being said, I understand that changing my name with regards to my history and the work I have created under my old name can be confusing to fans, or people trying to find my music. So, although my legal name will be Haley McCallum, I will be performing, writing, and recording henceforth under the name HALEY.
Thank you for supporting this very personal and joyful decision!
With Love, Haley.
Haley’s most recent album, Impossible Dream, is out now.