Artists’ Picks: Keith Whitley

Introducing our new series “Artists’ Picks,” where we will be talking with some of our favorite artists about their favorite songs by their heroes!

The first artist in our series is one of the top-mentioned influences of the nearly 200 artists featured on Pro Country, Keith Whitley!

Though he unfortunately only released a handful of albums before his untimely death and a few more posthumously, the songs that make up those albums fill a legendary chapter in the history of country music.

Read along as Joanna Young, Donice Morace, Zach Neil, Kendall Shaffer and Clayton Smalley share their favorite tracks by the great Keith Whitley!

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Joanna Young

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To me, country music has had a lot of great artists, musicians, and even stars. Without a doubt though, Keith Whitley helped pave the road, and can easily be called a legend. There are few artists that come to mind,  but without a doubt, he is one of the most imitated artists of our lifetime. Today, country music wouldn’t be what it is without Whitley. Here are a few of my favorites and what they mean to me.

  • I’m Not That Easy to Forget
    • This song helped me get through some breakups, and that’s an understatement. This is one of those “I’m better off without you, but good luck forgetting me” songs!
  • Homecoming ‘63,” “Miami, My Amy,” and “Don’t Close Your Eyes
    • As a little girl, I remember first being introduced to Keith Whitley by my dad. He would play his cassettes, and we would sing like no other, and these three songs are a distinct memory of that, and I’ll never forget.
  • “I’m Over You”
    • “So if I seem a little bit cold, it only means you lost the hold, you had on me, I’m over you.” This song is one of his most iconic songs, but it truly is one of my favorite songs of all time.

Donice Morace

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  • “I Never Go Around Mirrors”
    • Originally done by Lefty Frizzell, but only had one verse. Keith wrote a second verse, drove out to Lefty’s grave and sang it to him. It has always sent chills over me.
  • “I’m Over You”
    • Released after his death, this song epitomized country music to me and got me through some bad times. His delivery is impeccable!
  • Ten Feet Away
    • Being a singer, I lived this song a couple times, so it really strikes a chord with me.
  • I’m No Stranger To The Rain
    • From the cool acoustic guitar intro riff to his vocal delivery, this made me want to sing country music!
  • I’m Gonna Hurt Her On The Radio
    • Originally done by the Bellamy Brothers in ‘86, this song skillfully puts into words what just about every male country artist dreams of doing after a heartbreak. And Keith nails it; you could tell he lived it.

Zach Neil

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“It’s hard to pick a favorite, he was so freakin’ good! Here are just a few of my favs by Whitley:”

  • “Kentucky Bluebird”
  • “I’m No Stranger to the Rain”
  • “Miami, My Amy”

Kendall Shaffer

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“A lot of people put down sad country songs and say that’s all country is; depressing . I say that the best ones I know are the sad ones, not because I may be sad at that time, but because I’ve been there. When I think of Keith Whitley, I think “real country” like I’d want people to think of my music. Keith’s songs have helped me get through a lot of heartache and pain, as well as George Jones.”

  • “I Never Go Around Mirrors”
    • Lefty did this song first, but Keith just makes you feel what he’s feeling. “It tears me up to see a grown man cry”! One of my favorite tunes of all time.
  • “Miami, My Amy”
    • A Hank Cochran and Dean Dillon tune, enough said! This is a perfect example of how country music tells a story. I love singing this one live.
  • “’Til A Tear Becomes A Rose”
    • If I have to duet to a song with a woman besides “Golden Ring,” it’s this on. Pretty much saying, “Come here girl, don’t be sad, I’ve got you.”
  • Between An Old Memory And Me
    • We all have our haunting past relationships. If you’ve ever had to let go of something that you just couldn’t, this is for you .
  • The Birmingham Turnaround
    • Pure sacrifice for love. A guy leaving to chase his dreams and decides to stay with his woman. That’s true love right there, hoss.

Clayton Smalley

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  • Somebody’s Doin’ Me Right
    • When I hear this song, it takes me back to when I was a kid hanging out with my brothers and cousins at my Grandparents house. Simply classic country.
  • “Don’t Close Your Eyes”
    • To me, there has never been someone better than Keith Whitley at making you feel what he’s singing in a song, especially in this one, and this song is quintessential country music in my mind.
  • “Ten Feet Away”
    • I just love to blare this song and sing at the top of my lungs!
  • Tell Lorrie I Love Her
    • This is one of the greatest love songs I’ve ever heard, period!
  • “I’m No Stranger To The Rain”
    • This song just hits home with me, it’s so good!

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