How Keith Whitley Helped Dylan Scott Land a Record Deal
Dylan Scott has more than a few good Keith Whitley stories. The two singers never met — Scott was born 17 months after Whitley died — but one cast a large shadow over the other's early life and career for which the other is eternally grateful.
“My dad had a single-cab Toyota pickup truck with a cassette player in it and that’s what we listened to," Scott tells Taste of Country when asked about where the passion is rooted. He recognizes how this previously unpublicized fandom seems to come from nowhere. It's understandable if you're scratching your head wondering how the "My Girl" singer can be so dedicated to a country icon that he'd cut a seven-song EP in his name. He knows even his most ardent fans may get whiplash.
“Absolutely, that’s what we wanna do," the Louisiana native says. "I grew up on older country music. My dad played with Freddy Fender and Freddie Hart and guys like that back in the day ... but if you listened to my music now you’d never guess that."
Watch: Dylan Scott Sings "When You Say Nothing At All"
An Old Memory — A Tribute to Keith Whitley is, humbly, just that. Scott really just wanted to cut these songs and he'd have cut seven more if he had been allowed. Recorded at Sound Emporium — the same studio Whitley used to track some of his most iconic vocal parts — the new project (releasing on Aug. 16) finds Scott staying true to old arrangements with blessings from Whitley's family. Jesse Keith Whitley and Lorrie Morgan sing together on "Tell Lorrie I Love Her."
“I didn’t record this tribute album to try to do anything but try to continue his legacy and try to live up to half of what he did as far as the music goes,” Scott tells Taste of Country Nights.
The "Hooked" hitmaker owes Whitley at least that much. Early on he appreciated the tone of Whitley's voice and his melodies. After high school he started to pick up on the lyrics. When he moved to Nashville he started to write with Charlie Craig, who let it slip that he co-wrote "Between an Old Memory and Me." Soon the two men found themselves in a studio cutting a demo of the song for Scott's career.
“It was that demo that got in the hands of my manager, my now manager, and he took that and got the record deal," Scott says.
Thirty years after Whitley's death there's been a renaissance, not from the men and women he directly influenced, but by their kids. Scott, Michael Ray, Dillon Carmichael and many more praise Whitley, with not one being old enough to remember those good old days. There's no lacking sincerity, however, something this new class seems to understand. You can fake an appreciation for Waylon Jennings or Ronnie Milsap for a song or two and can karaoke some Alan Jackson or Merle Haggard, but when it comes to this all-time-great country vocalist, you'd better feel it.
Of course, it helps if you have a few good stories as well. Watch the above video to hear Scott share one Morgan told him about the real meaning of "Tell Lorrie I Love Her."
Watch: Dillon Carmichael Sings Keith Whitley's "Don't Close Your Eyes"
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