History, Interviews, News

Jesse Keith Whitley discusses his musical heritage and upcoming projects

Jesse Keith Whitley performing at the Grand Ole Opry in May 2019.

Nashville is always full of music activity, whether it is on Broadway, on the Grand Ole Opry stage, or within the walls of a recording studio.  Earlier this week, Jesse Keith Whitley spoke to Kentucky Country Music as he took a break from the recording studio.  Music is in his blood, literally, as his music heritage reaches back with his parents, Keith Whitley, and Lorrie Morgan, along with his grandpa, George Morgan.  Jesse has been honoring their legacies, as well as paving his own path through music.

Recently, Jesse Keith Whitley, along with Lorrie Morgan and Chris Keefe joined forces to put together a 30th Anniversary Memorial Concert in memory of Keith Whitley.  “We got together and started making a list of names of people that we wanted to perform.  Mom was trying to get in touch with Garth Brooks when he called her saying that he would love to be a part of it,” Jesse recalls.  “Then he said that Trisha would love to be a part of it.  Joe Diffie was the first one we asked and he said yes.  The people that were on the showbill are ones that were always there for my family.  There were several that had other commitments and unable to come.”

Two individuals that they asked and unable to perform were Mark Chesnutt and Chris Young.  According to Jesse, “Mark was having vocal issues and had to cancel last minute.  He was really looking forward to it.  Chris Young is another that we tried to get, but he was already booked.  He has always honored dad’s memory so well with his music and you can tell he was a major influence on Chris.  Darryl Singletary is another that was taken away from us too soon.  He loved dad and we loved him.”  You can watch some of the performances from the concert by clicking here.

Keith Whitley’s music has left a major impact on so many in the music industry.  It seems like everyone has their own story about a song or memory of him.  Jesse co-wrote “Shadows” to honor his dad’s musical legacy.  “There wasn’t any process to the song as it was probably the easiest song I’ve ever written.  I had the idea and melody and it came with ease,” Jesse said.

On Friday, July 19th, Jesse Keith Whitley will be on stage at Renfro Valley Entertainment Center, with a full band.  On Saturday, they will be performing at the Tipsy Cow in Lexington.  When asked what fans can expect, Jesse replied, “This will be a special show with the full band.  We have a set list of 40 songs that includes originals, as well as cover songs.”

Interestingly enough, we have been on the hunt to see if Keith Whitley ever performed at Renfro Valley Entertainment Center in Kentucky.  We know that Lorrie Morgan has performed there multiple times, but no one is for sure if Keith ever graced the stages.  If he did, it may have been with Dr. Ralph Stanley or J.D. Crowe when he was playing bluegrass music prior to his country career.

NASHVILLE, TN – APRIL 30: Jesse Keith Whitley, Lorrie Morgan and Morgan Whitley attend Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s new exhibit “Still Rings True: The Enduring Voice of Jesse Keith Whitley” at Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on April 30, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum)

Fans can expect a preview of the new album that Jesse Keith Whitley is working on.  It is set to be released in late August with the first single out within a couple of weeks.  Jesse and Lorrie have been keeping busy with Keith Whitley’s legacy.  “We just completed the Memorial Bike Ride that Chris and Becky help organize,” Jesse said.  “There were over 100 people that participated.  It continues to grow back in numbers.  The first ride 29 years ago had 387 riders before it dwindled down to 5.  Now it continues to grow and even some fans from Germany joined in.  Before it started at Sandy Hook at Keith Whitley’s statue and ended at his gravesite.  Now it started in Goodlettsville, TN and ends at the gravesite.”

Merchandise from the Keith Whitley Memorial Bike Ride can be purchased online through their Facebook page.  Proceeds from events are going towards a new gravestone for Keith Whitley.

Recently, another addition has been the Keith Whitley Fingerprint on Country Music Awards.  It originated in Kentucky before moving to Nashville this year.  Tim McGraw and Randy Travis were one of many honored this year.

The Country Music Hall of Fame has recently showcased an exhibit on the life of Keith Whitley.  Many music fans are pushing for them to induct Keith into the Hall of Fame as it is long overdue.

Jesse Keith Whitley recently became a dad again, which led into a discussion of passing on traditions.  According to Jesse, he hopes that his children “learn to stay true to themselves.  The more you are true to yourself, the happier you will be.  Don’t be someone you are not.”

Having met Jesse at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony when Keith was inducted, I can say that he has stayed true to himself.  He has his own unique style, but honors the memory of his father and grandfather that they would be proud of the man he has become.

Be sure to catch up with Jesse Keith Whitley as he is on tour over at https://www.facebook.com/jessekeithwhitley/.  Fans are also encourage to visit the following Facebook pages and groups that honor Keith Whitley’s Memory:
Keith Whitley Official Facebook Page
Keith Whitley Memorial Bike Ride
Keith Whitley – His Music Lives on Facebook Group
Keith Whitley Merchandise
Remembering Keith Whitley