It's been quite the 2023 for Holler's favourite cornstar, Hailey Whitters. With a plethora of festival appearances in amongst her consistent touring this year, Whitters' had already honed the pop sensibilities of her albums Raised and The Dream into a powerful and encompassing live set.
With the release of her new EP, I'm In Love, in July, Whitters headed into summer with an even further refined set, one that embraced the highs of her 90s-country influenced sound and channelled it into natural singalongs for any crowd, whether aware of the Iowan or not, to immediately pick up and cherish.
At Dreamy Draw Festival, the longer festival set time that Whitters' is perhaps only usually afforded during her headline shows allows her to not only have some fun with some select covers, but delve a little deeper into her back catalogue to road test some rarities.
'Black Sheep', the title track of her largely and remarkably undiscovered 2015 debut, is a great cut from earlier in her career, a suitable fit in her live set today and one that makes her sound like Miranda at her most fiery and combative.
Not long after, it's followed by her interpretation of Trisha Yearwood's 'She's In Love With The Boy'. At this point, the song fits hand in glove live with Whitters' Yearwood-featuring cut 'How Far Will It Go', another song from the deluxe edition of The Dream that is quickly becoming a singalong fan favourite with each new audience she encounters.
It's the surprise inclusion of '9 To 5' that undoubtedly pleases most, though. The last time we heard Whitters' perform the Dolly classic was with 49 Winchester back at Dee's in Nashville in June, so to watch the singer whip up a crowd into a reverie with her own, even more honky tonk version of the classic is proof of her entertainment value.
Now, if it wasn't already clear from her music, Whitters' stage interaction is joyous, punchy and assured - she’s endearing yet straight to the point, more than ready to have a joke and a play with the crowd as the set proceeds.
"We got any blue collar boys from TikTok here tonight?" Whitters' dryly jokes when talking about the success of 'Everything She Ain't' - her first viral song and radio hit - and how'd she love for her new single, 'I'm In Love', to achieve the same positive result.
It's this natural synergy Whitters has with the Scottsdale crowd that wins over those in attendance at Dreamy Draw Festival.
As her sets develop further into full-bodied, exuberant singalongs, Whitters' indisputable charm will continue to draw crowds in for a two-step and a swig of a cerveza at the nearest opportunity.
For more on Dreamy Draw 2023, see below: