Guest article by Sherry Nelson
The moment he walks out on stage in his black leather vest, black cowboy hat, and signature Jennings swagger, a palpable energy builds in the air. It is that iconic sound of plangent tones that for generations has cut deep into the soul and hearts of music fans all across the world. He is Whey Jennings, Grandson of Waylon Jennings, the Patron Saint of Country Music’s Outlaw Movement. The moment you hear the vocal quality of Whey Jennings, you realize you are witnessing a rebirth and resurgence that great Outlaw Waylon Jennings, who in his day, changed the sound and business of what country music is today.
Just like his grandfather, Whey carries himself as an honest and true ‘Good Ol’ Boy’ who loves music, making music, and offering quality entertaining to his growing fan base. He is every bit the rugged and handsome entertainer his grandfather was, carrying that old country charm as he connects with fans in person after his shows; on social media to comments sent to him by the massive volume of extreme views; and through downloads of his performances. Those too young to have seen the original Highwaymen perform – Legends Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson – are being respected and paralleled by a new generation of Country Music Outlaws – Whey Jennings, Matt Kennon, Creed Fisher, Thomas Gabriel, Jamey Johnson, Chris Stapleton, Margo Price, and Cody Jinks – who with a tip of their hat are once again making music that is honest, raw, and from the heart.
The One To Watch
Whey Jennings is a relatively new country artist having performed roughly the past three years but has already earned the title, “The ‘One To Watch’ in 2021″ by his peers because of his uniquely deep and sexy Jennings’ baritone voice that is as Americana as his cowboy hat.
In 2019 Whey Jennings released Live at the Nashville Palace and people took notice of his distinctive Jennings vocals and sound. Then in 2020, he released his follow up album Gypsy Soul which became a turning point in Whey’s career revealing the depth of his songwriting and vocal range not heard since his grandfather Waylon’s “Rambling Man,” and “Good Hearted Woman.”
Gypsy Soul is a mix of Hillbilly Rock, Western Honkytonk, Southern Rock, Funk, Folk, and a hint of Gospel. The song “Lead Me Home” Whey wrote as a tribute to his father Terry Jennings (who played bass alongside his father Waylon Jennings in the 1970’s and 80’s). The emotional lyrics and range of Whey’s voice are so powerful that it should be the anthem of the United States Blue Angels Flight Squadron or for every Patriot returning home to their families.
Just like his grandfather, Whey’s music has that plainspoken honesty and sensibility that is connecting him with an ever-growing audience across the nation. Those who remember his grandfather on stage, remember that it was never a simple musical performance but more of a conversation that connected him to the audience. Today Whey is connecting in that same way with audiences young and old, rich, and poor, from east to west, and north to south. His manager Tammy Carolus says, “Whey Jennings is a true hidden gem who is kind, honest, and humble and with one of the most powerful voices I have ever heard. No auto tone needed with him, ever! He has a natural God given sound that is literally in his blood, and he is mesmerizing folks with music that people not only hear but feel.”
Becoming A Headliner
Quickly moving from performer among a roster of entertainers at festivals and concerts with such luminaries as David Allan Coe, Kid Rock, Lorrie Morgan, Trace Adkins, The Confederate Railroad, and the late Great Charlie Daniels Whey is now the headlining act. Elvis Presley moved audiences with his rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’, and, in the summer of 2021, Whey Jennings struck a chord with his acoustic version of ‘Hallelujah’, bringing people to their feet in exuberance. Lynda Evjen, a power player in the Nashville music and entertainment scene said, “Whey, I knew your Granddaddy Waylon, and you have something very special in you that I believe will take you even further than you can imagine”.
His Grandfather Waylon Jennings famously said, “there is always one more way to do things and that’s your way”, and with Whey’s talent, honesty, and integrity those dividends are paying off. I asked Whey if he ever feels the presence of his Grandfather while performing? “Pretty much every song I feel his presence, even off the stage because he has been a very big influence in my life, and I will always be grateful to him for that, and I hope I can make him and all my family proud of what I am doing.” Shooter Jennings, Whey’s Uncle, was the first to call him out on stage (after that famous and unexpected performance Whey did with his grandfather at the age of four). His Grandmother, Country Music Icon Jessi Colter and cousin Struggle Jennings continue to support him as he plays many of the same venues as his grandfather – The Galloping Goose in Arizona, Billy Bob’s in Texas, and The Porterfield Music Festival.
Whey Jennings is undeniably one of the fiercest and fastest growing Outlaw Country entertainers with his own unique musical style mix of Southern Rock and Blues that he has described as “if Waylon Jennings and Lynyrd Skynyrd had a baby”. With talent rooted in his lineage, there is no denying the authenticity of his sound and in his lyrics that many argue are the perfect tone for any episode of Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone. When your words are simple and relatable you can reach a much wider audience because in that simple language, the listener is much more adept to impose their own experiences and perceptions, making his music timeless.
The Year For Whey
2022 is already shaping up to be another record-breaking year for Whey Jennings. He has the much anticipated release of his new album, If It Wasn’t for the Sinnin’. Whey has developed a new partnership with record label Dirt Rock Empire and just inked a deal with Bang Productions, which encompasses future Concert Tours, TV and Media appearances, and Merchandising. Whey’s Manager, Tammy Carolus, proudly boasts that Whey Jennings is a dream client whose talent, good manners, and professionalism precedes him in the industry, and she no longer finds the “need to sell him”. “You can see the longevity of his success in the eyes of his audience and the rhythm in their clapping hands and dancing. It truly is a rewarding and euphoric moment at the end of each concert because you KNOW Whey has touched more people with happiness and a lingering spring in their stride and not many people can do that! I get emails every day from the most amazing people telling me how Whey has touched them with his music, or how they danced to his music at their wedding.”
Whey has said he loves performing and connecting with people who enjoy his music and love the family he is blessed to be apart of, and when you see the crowds at any of his concerts dancing and singing along, you can’t help but sense these people are some of the greatest fans in the world. Fun fact – Whey has also enjoyed some of the finest beef jerky and cheesecake brought to him at his concerts by ticket holders who learned those are his favorite treats. According to his manager, “Whey’s fans are something extra special – not only do they have great taste in music, but they sure know how to surprise Whey with his favorite snacks!”
As more people began to feel Whey’s music and connect with his love of country, love of family, and great respect for those who protect the freedoms that make America great, my hope is the inevitable, ‘a coming full circle’ collaboration between Whey Jennings and one of the last remaining Original Outlaws and Highwaymen of Country Music – the Legendary Willie Nelson. So, in the spirit of Whey Jennings, Waylon and Willie, I raise my glass to you and say Blessed are we that that magical Jennings Outlaw music and sound touches your soul as it has for so many generations before.
By Sherry Nelson