For someone who “sings like the Lone Star state was hers” but was born and raised in Prince Edward Island, the praise for Whitney Rose flows like a Sunday morning service.
Rose, who started singing for customers at the age of two in her grandparents’ bar, is Canada’s immaculate country music conception.
After bouncing in and out of different colleges then living off the radar in rural Nova Scotia, Rose made the pilgrimage to Toronto with a handful of songs, looking to make a record. There she settled in at the Cameron House, a Queen Street lounge renowned for its community of emerging roots artists — Blue Rodeo, among others, started there — and released her first self-titled album on the bar’s label in 2012.
Eight years later, with three more recordings to her credit, Rose has won hearts all over America with many claiming she’s the resurrection of “pure country, Texas-style.”
Influenced by the “queen bees” of Nashville, Rose cites Kitty Wells, Tammy Wynette, and Dolly Parton as some of her favourites, a class of distinction that she herself easily belongs to. Also a fan of the “country kingpins” Hank Williams and George Jones, her duets with Paul Malo, the lead singer for The Mavericks, have been compared to the same power and intensity as Jones and Wynette when they were country’s royal couple.
Rose now resides in Austin, Texas where’s she’s become part of the city’s creative melting pot. Although a bonafide country artist, Rose is also a new breed not limited to the purist category of classic country. Prone to colouring outside the lines, she’s also fond of girl groups like The Ronettes and superstar Judy Garland.
The title of her 2017 album, Rule 62, is a reference to the defacto Alcoholics Anonymous guideline which says, “Don’t take yourself too damn seriously.” Abiding by that advice, Rose jokingly refers to her artistic style as “vintage-pop-infused-neo-traditional-country.”
Her new album, We Still Go to Rodeos, features 12 original recordings produced by Paul Kolderie (Radiohead, Hole, Pixies, Lou Reed). The album is a step forward for Rose showing she’s not afraid to get her boots dirty while continuing to strum alongside some of the best in the country music biz.
Her first single on the album, “In a Rut,” comes at an appropriate time. Not intentionally written for the pandemic we’re currently living in but Rose hopes that the tune helps whoever might need it.
“I wrote the song when I was in an immense personal rut back in February 2019. It’s all I could think about and I just kept telling myself ‘I’m in a rut, and I’ll get out of it.’ Turns out we’re all in a rut right now, but we’ll collectively get out of it. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Always is.”