Rising Artist Chat: Brenna Whitaker

Recently we had the great fortune to interview Universal/Verve artist and ETTG darling Brenna Whitaker. Drawing on many influences and having incredible talent, it is no wonder that people such as John Mayer are taking notice. Her recent single “Love Back” has been drawing tons of buzz. We asked her about her influences, heartbreak, and her future plans. Check it out:


“Love Back” is a great heartbreak song. I was wondering, as a songwriter, what goes into the perfect “lover done me wrong” type of song?

  I think my favorite songs are “lover done me wrong” ones actually… With “Love Back” I think everyone has felt the pain of wasted time and energy on the wrong person.  You live and learn and you move on.. but it still hurts. It feels good to feel so bad.


Do you draw on personal experience, or just try to relate to the audience?

 All my interpretations in music are personal.  I feel a great need to relate to people and let them know it’s all gonna be ok.

We love how many influences and genres are present on the new album. What was the first record/song you remember hearing?

 I really remember mix tapes of 50’s pop songs like “sugar shack”, “going to the chapel” and “It’s my party”…. 


Where were you and how did it have a role in pushing you toward creating?

 I was in the basement.  Growing up in Kansas you get the whole “basement” thing with tornado’s being common.  I spent a lot of time thinking about “What if?” as a kid.  I think you definitely manifest your role in creating your future in anything creative.  


What do you want people to takeaway from the new album?

 I want people to hear my voice and how much I love singing.   


What do you want them to feel or hear?

 Good ole fashioned singing and the stories that maybe they could understand.  I’m a big fan of feelings and making people maybe wonder.


You have been playing with some amazing and established performers like Tom Jones and Cyndi Lauper, what has been the highlight of your career so far, or the moment where you were struck by the gravity of it all?

I think one of the greatest things a singer can do is go support your fellow singers.  The fact that my heroes have somehow stumbled upon my shows is what keeps me going.  The recent highlight was John Mayer last week at my show.  He sat in with my band and I got to watch him up close….just be John Mayer.  I think he’s majorly gifted.  I’m constantly in awe of meeting artists I admire.


What current artists inspire you to make music?

  I like listening to old spirituals and 50’s and 60’s R&B that have funny stories.  I’m also a huge fan of Vince Guaraldi and Debussy.  Luther Vandross and Ruth Brown… too many to count.


Do you have a guilty pleasure that you are a little embarrassed to listen to?

 Well… I listen to a radio a lot and when Justin Bieber comes on… I like the “world” sound in the production of his latest album.  He came to my show once and gave a 12 year old trumpet player I had sit in a standing ovation… I like the Biebs. 


What is next for you, cool projects or tours?

 I’m hoping to work as much as possible so I can buy an old crumbling mansion to restore and get a mini pig.  I’m hoping to collaborate with John Mayer and get as many kids to play the saxophone as possible.  Traveling around the world is amazing and I really feel like the luckiest duck most days.

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