Although Raised is the album that she always thought she would make, Country superstar-in-the-making Hailey Whitters has no intention of turning her back on music any time soon. Eventual farm owner or not, the Iowa-born singer-songwriter fully expects to keep making the kind of music that she loves with the people she loves to make it with—and deliver it to those who love to hear it.
Raised is due to drop this Friday on Pigasus Records/Songs & Daughters/Big Loud Records.
I recently sat down with Whitters to discuss having to stay patient, trumping her producer self, and a future filled with lots of pigs and chickens.
AH: We are just a few days away from Raised reaching the masses. What kind of emotions do you juggle with as you are set to release new music into the universe? Is it difficult letting go of something and relinquishing control—especially when you put so much of yourself into the process?
HW: I’m feeling very anxious and excited! I can’t wait for fans to hear this record… we’ve been working on this record since 2019 so it’s something I’ve been patiently waiting to share. I don’t find it difficult to let go; I’m very much in control during the creation and production phase, but once that’s complete I figure it’s up to the fans to decide whether or not it’s something they wanna keep coming back to or not.
AH: There is something beautifully classic and yet still superbly contemporary about Raised. From a production standpoint, what did you set out to achieve when you stepped into the studio for this record? Did the vision you had for it in your mind meet your expectations?
HW: I think we definitely fulfilled our vision. The first session we had for this record was the first we had fiddle on a session and it was pretty much a done deal from there. It feels very organic and true to my roots—I think you can hear a lot of the music I was influenced by growing up in this record.
AH: As co-producer on the record, did songwriter Hailey ever butt heads with producer Hailey in terms of what one wanted and what the other could achieve? How do you find a creative agreement between both sides of yourself when in the studio?
HW: I don’t think so… songwriter Hailey always trumps producer Hailey. I really just try to do what is best for the song and the lyric production-wise. It’s a very simple rule but it tends to work for me.
AH: There are some records that just have that complete album feel to them. I think that’s where Raised feels so classic to me. You can put it on and it will take the listener on a journey as opposed to just dropping them into the middle somewhere. Is that something you think about when putting together an album, and as an artist, how is that perceived inside the industry when we now value single streams more than album sales?
HW: Aw, thank you! I’m glad to hear you say that. I’ve made records in the past where I just kind of lump a bunch of songs together, but I’ve found I can show a lot more of myself when there’s a woven thread or storyline in the record. As a listener, I always feel closer to an artist listening to a record top to bottom, so I always try to deliver that experience to my own fans—even when it might not be the industry standard at the time.
AH: For the listener, the end product is always the most memorable, but for you, the process of making the record is where the memories are made. What is something about that process on this one that will stick with you throughout your life/career?
HW: The first session we had on this record was winter of 2019 and I’ll never forget knowing we were onto something really, really special. It was our first session all back after The Dream so I was a little nervous about how it was going to go, and if we were going to be able to bring as much magic to this project as we did the previous, but I remember going home from that first session and knowing we were onto something really good.
AH: What would someone learn about you in sitting down to listen to Raised front to back?
HW: I think they’d be able to see I grew up pretty country! (Laughter) Hopefully they can see that I’m very proud of where I come from and that I wouldn’t be who or where I am today without it.
AH: You have accomplished so much already in your young career, but in the end, it always comes back to the songwriting. Raised touches on so many subjects that people can relate to, which is so important to taking people from listeners to fans. Where has your songwriting changed the most since you wrote your earliest songs and how much more confident are you in your storytelling abilities today than you were back then?
HW: I’m finding it easier and easier to just tell the truth. The songs on this record are all real stories or based on real happenings and people I’ve come across throughout my life.
AH: Speaking of “back then,” what would the younger Hailey who first picked up a guitar think of Raised if she had a chance to hear it?
HW: That’s a great question! I hope she’d be proud of it. This record is an interesting one because in so many ways it feels like the prequel to The Dream… it feels a lot closer to that 17-year-old girl from Iowa. I had to make The Dream because it was what I was going through at the time, what it was like for me in Nashville chasing this dream… it took that record to get people to pay attention. But now that I have it, Raised feels like the record I was always gonna make at some point.
AH: When you hang up your guitar and call it a day, what do you want to be remembered for? What do you want your musical legacy to be?
HW: Making people feel something—hopefully something positive and unified. I hope my records can be a shoulder to lean on when the world feels heavy.
AH: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
HW: I hope I can have a farm in Iowa! With lots of pigs and chickens. I hope that I’ll be able to continue making music that I love with people I love for people that love to hear it.
For more information on Whitters and her current tour, visit www.haileywhitters.com.
Check out her earlier album The Dream, here: REVIEW: Hailey Whitters’ “The Dream” is Silky Homespun Wisdom