Kyle Whitaker: Not Out in the Sticks for Much Longer
At the tender age of 26, Butler County native, Kyle Whitaker, is already a seasoned performer. Of course, you’ll have to take into account that he started singing in front of an audience at the age of five. His father, Jeff, served as guitar player for young Kyle as the five-year-old sang in local churches. At fifteen, Kyle was part of Heaven Sent, a gospel quartet that toured in southern venues, and by age 22, he and four others (Joe Howe, Thomas Harris, Joe Pearl, and Cody Whitaker—Kyle’s brother) formed the group, High Country, a country music band that still performs locally and in the surrounding areas.
Three years ago, in the summer of 2010, Kyle decided it was time to take his musical aspirations to the next level, so he entered Southern Kentucky Star Search, held at the Butler County Catfish Festival. That performance would be the first of a three-win sweep that also included the Bowling Green Idol competition and the Beech Bend Super Star talent search, where Kyle competed against two performers who have currently made it to the Hollywood leg of American Idol, the FOX network talent show.
Winning the Beech Bend contest opened doors for Kyle in Nashville. There, he met with some record label executives and made a few demos, but as quickly as the doors had opened for him, they seemed to close just as suddenly. It seemed as if everything just came to a halt and stayed that way for nearly two years. Then, last year, Sherry Clouse, the woman behind the Beech Bend Super Star talent search, sent Kyle an email. She had pitched his name to Gary Sadker, owner of Red Ridge Entertainment, located in Nashville. Sadker was interested.
Kyle met with Sadker, sang an acoustic version of two original songs (written by friend and band mate, Joe Howe), and it was a done deal. Red Ridge decided to produce Kyle’s CD and send it to country radio. His single, “Strong” (co-written by Nashville songwriter Jamie Johnson, who had a hit with “In Color”) was played on 1400 radio stations across the US. (Johnson also co-wrote another single for the CD, “Hung Over On You,” and the single, “That’s What I’m Fishin For,” was written by the daughter of country music superstar, Vince Gill.) Sadker also convinced Kyle to do an EPK video. The video includes a live performance, showcasing songs featured on the artist’s CD.
In the fall of last year, doors started to swing wide open, as Kyle was invited to open for country singer, Josh Thompson (“Beer on the Table” and “Way Out Here”) at the Orpheum Theater in Peoria, Illinois. Kyle was then tapped to co-headline with country stars, Clay Walker, Aaron Tippen and the Marshal Tucker Band in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, at the Freedom Festival—a concert to honor the American troops. He traveled from there to Brooklyn, Connecticut, where he opened for Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder and Third Eye Blind.
On Saturday night, February 16, at 7:30 pm, SKYPAC in Bowling Green will feature the 2006 American Idol finalist, Bucky Covington. His opening act will be Kyle Whitaker. Performing closer to home is a welcomed respite for the father of two and stepfather of three. As well as keeping up with the challenges of his career, Kyle and wife, Sherry, manage the comings and goings of Emma Grace (age 2), Hayden Michael (age 5), Haley (age 10), Hannah (age 14), and Zach (age 19). You won’t hear Kyle complain about his time out on the road, though. Opening for big acts is a viable way to get noticed by major record labels.
Regardless of where Kyle Whitaker performs, he is still very much a local boy. “I am thankful for all the support from my family and friends,” he says, “My biggest goal is to make Butler County proud.”
(Tickets are still available for the Saturday night show and can be obtained at www.theskypac.com or by calling 270-904-1880. Mention the promo code “Bucky” to receive a $5.00 discount.
Kyle Whitaker’s CD, “Out in the Sticks,” can be purchased at the following Butler County locations: Valvoline Express Care, Scott’s Market, The Kompany. You can also contact Kyle on Face Book Pages.)
Story by Cheryl Hughes