Finally. 14+ years into a 10 year town, and Hailey Whitters is receiving the attention from the mainstream of country music that many fans, critics, and prognosticators have been saying she deserved many years ago, wishcasting her as one of the future bright stars of the genre if she would just be given a chance. With Americana-level writing chops and a traditional-leaning sound, yet mainstream-level appeal and acceptance, Hailey Whitters has been considered vital to the effort to save country music ever since she released her 2015 debut Black Sheep.
Having written songs for Alan Jackson and Little Big Town, having co-written with top writers like Lori McKenna, having been featured on the soundtrack for Yellowstone and the last Flatland Cavalry record Welcome to Countryland, Hailey Whitters has always been highly regarded by her peers. In 2019 amid all of the fracas about Lil Nas X and “Old Town Road,” John Osborne of Brothers Osborne said it best.
“There are tons of girls just waiting for the moment, waiting in line, writing the right songs, showing up everyday to the writing room, sometimes doing two or three or four writes a day. They’ve been in Nashville for over 10 years. There’s a girl in Nashville right now called Hailey Whitters who’s incredible. You go check her music out and you’re like, ‘Come on, we need to get this girl propped up.’ Then this dude puts out a song with kind of quasi country lyrics? Something about a horse, boobies and some bullshit?”
Hailey’s 2020 album The Dream, and later the 2021 deluxe edition The Dream: Living The Dream featuring collaborations with Brent Cobb, Trisha Yearwood, and others became her breakout moment. It wasn’t a commercial blockbuster, but her talent and and resonance could no longer be denied. So she was signed to Big Loud Records who did what some label should have done years before: invested in Hailey Whitters.
Now that investment is beginning to pay off. This week, the first radio promoted single from Hailey Whitters called “Everything She Ain’t” from her new album Raised crossed a number of milestones. It rose to #39 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. That’s right, Hailey Whitters is finally a Top 40 country star. It also rose to #29 on the Hot Country Songs chart, which takes into consideration consumption. As we commonly see with resonant women in country, their sales and streams outpace their radio play, while often with their male counterparts, it’s vice versa.
With prominent banjo and steel guitar, “Everything She Ain’t” is a breath of fresh air on country radio. Originally released in June, as we’ve seen in recent history, the climb for a quality single can sometimes take up to a year. But it is climbing, and so attention for Hailey Whitters with it. Now it’s time for us to finish the job and get Hailey into the Top 20 and beyond. Her placement on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart proves this is a hot track, with over 28 million streams on Spotify alone.
Whitters was on tour with Jon Pardi earlier this summer, and like Jon Pardi, she could definitely be part of the traditional country resurgence were seeing rewrite what we think about mainstream country.
Hailey Whitters moved to Nashville from rural Iowa when she was just 17. It’s taken 14 years—nearly half of her life—to find the traction she deserves. But her persistence is finally starting to pay off.