Whitney Rose Offers New Take On Old Country

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Prince Edward Island native Whitney Rose leads a bit of a charmed life for a young musician.

She continues to build on the acclaim of her self-titled debut record, released in November 2012, Whitney’s music owes more to Patsy Cline than Faith Hill or any other modern female country vocalist. This has undoubtedly left an unforgettable impression upon all those fortunate enough to see her perform live.

Incidentally, the live stage is what has played a major role in her success thus far. Last year alone, Whitney played alongside Dwight Yoakam and Reba McEntire.  But it was in her current hometown of Toronto where she rightfully attracted attention from the time of her first performances.

Her early shows earned her the support of Blue Rodeo members Bazil Donovan and Bob Egan. Donovan and veteran Toronto musician David Baxter would go on to produce Whitney Rose, helping the musician find the perfect balance between her reverence for classic country music vocalists and the emotional content of her personal style of songwriting.

Her music quickly found a home with Cameron House Records, an offshoot of the legendary Toronto club. The label is carrying on the tradition of being a driving force in Toronto’s roots-rock music scene and also serves as a home for Devin Cuddy, Sam Cash & The Romantic Dogs and Halifax’s Al Tuck.

“I was very lucky to be raised in a home where we listened to a lot of music,” Whitney begins. “It was my grandparents that introduced me to classic country music when I was very young. I think it is that deeply engrained loved for the old style of country music that started to shine through when I started writing my own music. I wasn’t trying to emulate anything or anyone. It is just how the music turned out.”

Given her authentic approach to the music of a bygone era, it is of course very different than what is popular in the country music genre today. Many see modern country music as nothing more than pop music with the occasional pedal steel guitar or violin thrown in.

Asked for her thoughts on the changing face of country music, Whitney is diplomatic, insisting that there is room for everybody:

“It is what it is. There is no denying how popular modern country music is. It reaches a lot of people because they are able to relate to the content of the songs. I could probably spend the rest of my life trying to wrap my head around the whole modern country music scene and ponder why country music went in the direction it did. At the end of the day, I am happy to do my thing while others do what they are passionate about.”

Whitney returns home to the Maritimes for four shows, including an early evening show at Moncton’s Plan b Lounge this Saturday night. She just wrapped up a run of nine shows throughout Western Canada where she was supporting acclaimed Grammy Award-winning band The Mavericks.

It was the second time that Whitney had performed in support of The Mavericks. The first time being four shows late last year here in the Maritimes, which included a stop at Fredericton’s Playhouse Theatre.

“They are such an incredible band. Touring with them was as enjoyable as it was educational. My guitarist Nichol Robertson and I would stand side-stage every night to watch their show. Really, we would have been stupid not to because we were given the opportunity to learn from some of the best guys in the business. The best thing about those guys is just how much they love music. Once the show is over or they have downtime, they are listening to music or talking about it. There was much to be taken away from them in terms of knowledge.”

Part of Whitney’s tour in the Maritimes includes a pair of shows at this weekend’s East Coast Music Awards, being held in Charlottetown. Whitney goes into the awards with two nominations – Rising Star Recording of the Year and Country Recording of the Year.

Even though Whitney now calls Toronto home, the award nominations are especially sweet to the young artist.

“The morning that I found out about the East Coast Music Award nominations, I was so thrilled and so honoured because I am from the East Coast. And even though I left to pursue music, the fact they are accepting and acknowledging my work in a scene as vibrant as the one in Atlantic Canada is a huge testament to the strength of the musical community,” she says.

The fact that she has the opportunity to return to her home province to celebrate East Coast Music Week is just the icing on the cake as far as she is concerned. Having the opportunity to reunite with her peers as well as members of her family is something that she is looking forward to.

“I always love returning to the East Coast. And thanks to my family, I am sure I will be well fed for the time I am home as well. I am sure there is at least one turkey dinner in my future.”

What: Whitney Rose
When: Saturday, April 5, 6 p.m.
Where: Plan b Lounge, 
 212 St. George St., Moncton

Article published in the April 3, 2014 edition of the Times & Transcript