Home and the people who make it have captivated Lori McKenna for years. Over the last three decades, as she became a wife and mother of five, she has also emerged as one of the most respected, prolific singer-songwriters in popular music. Her 2016 release The Bird and the Rifle netted three Grammy nominations, along with Americana Music Association nods––all firsts for McKenna as an artist. Then, she made history: In 2016, she became the first woman ever to win the Country Music Association’s Song of the Year two years in a row thanks to co-writing Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” and penning Tim McGraw’s no. 1 “Humble and Kind” solo. Both songs also clinched back-to-back Grammy wins for Best Country Song. In 2017, she became the Academy of Country Music’s first female Songwriter of the Year.
The Tree is her much-anticipated eleventh studio album. Produced by Dave Cobb, The Tree takes one of McKenna’s signature themes––family––and builds a tapestry of experiences she has lived and overheard, been told and dreamed up, to create a stunning ode to life’s defining relationships.
“I came to visit Nashville when I was 15 years old. We went backstage at the Grand Ole Opry and I peaked around the curtain. In that moment, I knew country music was going to be my life.” —Hailey Whitters
Ever since, this rising singer-songwriter has been working to make that dream a reality. Hailey Whitters moved to Nashville at age 17 and has celebrated plenty of highs—scoring major cuts as a songwriter, releasing the remarkable debut album Black Sheep, and captivating audiences on the road and in Nashville, playing songwriter rounds and late-night gigs on Broadway. This dedication and talent earned a publishing contract with Carnival Music, which she still calls home today.
Now as Whitters prepares her second album, she is grateful for the journey that fostered a deepening maturity as an artist and a keen sense of the frailty of life.
Her new songs “Ten Year Town” and “Living The Dream” serve as bookends to the ongoing story she has been writing since arriving in Music City. “People say Nashville is a ten year town, and I’ve been here almost 12 years,” says Whitters. “It’s easy to get caught up in your career status, but I’ve grown into a place of acceptance and gratitude for where I am. Being able to write songs and go out and perform them—to me, that is the dream.”