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Hailey Whitters on How 'Everything She Ain't' Reflects Her Own Philosophy: 'It's an Ode to Owning Our Truth'

The Iowa native shares what her hit song means to her.

Hailey Whitters is on a roll. Her breakout single "Everything She Ain't" is currently climbing through the Top 20 on the country airplay charts, and she's setting out on tour with stars like Dierks Bentley, Eric Church and more. Everything's coming together for the Iowa native who took home the New Female Artist of the Year award at the 2023 ACM Awards, but she cautions that her latest accomplishments aren't part of an overnight success story. Whitters, who just announced her new EP I'm In Love, is finally enjoying the fruit of many years of hard work, and she's busy taking it all in. 

"It is insane," Whitters tells Wide Open Country in an exclusive interview. "My story isn't one of quick success. I've been here for 15 years doing this and definitely had the highs and the lows. I think that's what makes this moment that much more sweet, like, really knowing and understanding what it took to get here." 

The momentum of Whitters' career is due in part to "Everything She Ain't." With its addicting melody, catchy hand clap rhythm and joyful-yet-sassy disposition, the song has all the hallmarks of a summer hit. Although the song features a more casual tone than others in Whitters' discography, she's happy to share a carefree moment with fans through the track. 

"It's light. It's fun. You don't have to think too hard about it," she says of the song. "It's just supposed to be something to brighten your mood. I think that's what's kind of cool about getting to perform the song — getting to see the way that it's reacting with people is fun. For me as an artist, when I'm up there on stage, don't get me wrong, I love to have the more heavily lyric centric songs that provoke some thoughts. But I also just love being able to get up there and have fun for three minutes with people and lighten the mood and hopefully help people have a fun good day." 

At first listen, the bubbly track may seem to be about a woman confidently proving her worth to a potential partner, but with all great songs, the words hold deeper meaning. For Whitters, the tune is about being yourself — no matter what anyone thinks. 

"It's just an ode to owning our truth and who you are and being that and knowing that it might not be everyone's cup of tea," she says. "This is who I am and I can be all that and more." 

That theme of being herself is one that permeates Whitters' entire life and career. As a true small town girl who grew up in Shueyville, Iowa, Whitters shows her roots in everything she does: from her music, to her charming vintage outfits and even to her partnerships. This year, Whitters partnered with George Dickel, celebrating National Bourbon Day with the brand at a special event at Cascade Hollow Distilling Co. in Tullahoma, Tenn. in June. For the singer, the partnership was a no-brainer, as she believes she and the liquor brand share the same philosophy. 

"I think it's about approachability," she says. "I'm a no-frills kind of gal. I  just try to create quality, thoughtful music, and I feel like George Dickel shares a lot of those thoughts as well. They put a lot of thought and creativity into their bourbon." 

"I think, at the end of the day, that's the secret ingredient: approachability," she adds. "You don't have to sugar coat it or anything."

In addition to enjoying a George Dickel old fashioned or bourbon neat this summer, Whitters is hitting festivals in Wisconsin, Canada, Idaho and more. She also joined Dierks Bentley on his Gravel and Gold tour in June, and she'll serve as an opener on Eric Church's Outsider Revival Tour this fall. Whitters says she was honored to get the call to tour with both Bentley and Church.

"I'm just huge fans of what they do, and they seem like really cool guys," she says. "It seems like they treat their people really well, and I'm excited to be in these road families that they've created, and also these fan families. Their fans just really, really love them and I think that they're both two artists who create really cool, sometimes left of center music. They're just very artistic and very thoughtful, and I'm excited to get to see that in such a big way." 

To add to her list of accomplishments, Whitters also joined Shania Twain on her Queen of Me world tour earlier this summer, which she says was a true "pinch me" moment. 

"It was insane," she says of the tour. "As someone who grew up idolizing Shania Twain, I don't think it really hit me that I was on tour with her until the first night where I was just standing side stage, and it was like my brain was, for the first time, connecting that voice and where I was and just piecing it all together. It was just crazy — so incredibly cool to see someone who has, I feel like, always been reinventing herself and her sound but still really staying true to who she was."

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