Hard work doesn't always pay off and success doesn't always happen overnight. Iowa-born singer/songwriter Hailey Whitters knows both of those truths, which makes her latest honor all the more sweeter.
The Grand Ole Opry has named Whitters as its June Opry NextStage Artist, which spotlights "the most exceptional talent on the forefront of their careers".
"The Grand Ole Opry is a holy place to me", Whitters says. "Its story and circle are something I've dreamt of being a part of ever since I was a little girl.
To be named an Opry NextStage Artist is an honor and comes at a time in my career where their investment in my career makes a difference".
Whitters dreamed of being a country music singer from a young age. An early visit to the Opry solidified her goal. "When I was 15, my mom brought me down to Nashville and just unveiled this whole new world to me", she told Holler.
"I remember we went on a tour of the Opry and the curtain went up, and it was just like, 'This is what I want to do for the rest of my life'".
She couldn't have known it then, but that visit set the stage for her future, even though getting back there to perform took some time.
After landing in Nashville over a decade ago, Whitters went on to write for Alan Jackson, Martina McBride and Little Big Town, but breaking through on her own name - as a country singer - wasn't happening.
She sang about her frustrations on her 2019 breakout single 'Ten Year Town'.
Whitters released her self-funded debut album The Dream in 2019, and followed it earlier this year with a deluxe edition called Living the Dream. It features new appearances from Little Big Town, Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey, Trisha Yearwood, Jordan Davis and Brent Cobb.
From her song with Little Big Town, 'Fillin' My Cup', she earned a CMT Music Awards nomination for Breakthrough Video of the Year.
The awards show airs on June 9 and will feature powerhouse performances and special duets, including one from Mickey Guyton and Gladys Knight.
Whitters made her Opry debut in 2019, and will perform again this Saturday, June 5 at 8 p.m. CT. Read Holler's feature about the Grand Ole Opry.
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