On a Tuesday night (April 18, 2023), under the glimmering lights of the Grand Ole Opry, ever-charming singer-songwriter Hailey Whitters took her familiar spot in the legendary circle.
An Opry NextStage alumnae and Grammy-nominated artist, Whitters kicked things off with a burst of glass-half-full optimism on 'Fillin' My Cup'. Originally graced with the honey-drenched harmonies of country group Little Big Town, her rendition of the tune - which nabbed Whitters a Breakthrough Video of the Year nomination at the 2021 CMT Awards - served as a warm welcome from the Iowa native.
"Howdy, y'all! I am so excited to be here today at the Grand Ole Opry,” she greeted the crowd, setting the stage for the next song. “You might wonder, what does a gal do on the day that she's playing the Grand Ole Opry".
Taking fans through her day, which included mowing the lawn, picking up a pin and a key lock for her hitch, loading up her trailer and taking it into the shop–and backing the whole thing up "all by my dang self"– Whitters joked with the audience that she'll make one heck of a dad someday, earning a flurry of laughter from the Opry house.
"I owe it all to the guys in this next song, the boys that I grew up with and the boys that raised me. I grew up in the midwest and there's a lot of tough, hardworking men," she explained. "This is my love song to the 'Boys Back Home'".
Found on her 2022 record, Raised, which was voted Holler's Album of the Year, 'Boys Back Home' pays homage to all the guys who gave Whitters her tough skin and taught her some lessons about love and life.
Whitters, who recently earned her first-ever ACM Award nomination for New Female Artist of the Year at the 2023 ceremony, closed her Opry set with her first single at country radio, the Gold-certified 'Everything She Ain't,' which is currently climbing the charts at No. 24.
Before breaking into the song, though, Whitters playfully said, "I am a 15-year overnight success! I've been here for 15 years by way of Shueyville, Iowa, and they always say that it just takes one song. This song is my song, y'all". Making mention of her first ACM nod, she added, "Follow your dreams people! This [song] has changed my whole world around all because of y'all. Thank you for being so good to me and so good to this song".
After leading the crowd through a little audience interaction, to which the House happily obliged, Whitters gave a simply lovely performance of the single as she twirled around the stage, soaking up every moment.
Whitters, who just wrapped up her "Raised Tour" at the top of this month, will head to Frisco, Texas to battle it out on the ACM Awards stage on May 11. Later this year, she will also hit the road with country icon Shania Twain for some dates on her "Queen of Me Tour".
Hailey Whitters - Grand Ole Opry Setlist - April 18, 2023
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