Music Spotlight: Whey Jennings

Sep 22, 2023 at 03:00 am by Bethany Bowman

Whey Jennings is as great a performer as you would expect him to be, but his path to stardom has not been an easy one.

When Whey was around six years old, he picked up a microphone that Jessi Colter left on a chair backstage at his grandpa’s show. Young Whey pranced out onto the stage and began singing "Mamma's Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys." Whey's grandpa Waylon shouted out, "Hey hold up there Hoss...wait for me!" Waylon went to pickin' and when the song was finished, the crowd went nuts.

He would occasionally perform with his grandparents until he was 13. Then, there was a point when he went on stage and “froze like a deer in headlights.”

He thought, “I’ve got to find something different to do with my life because this scared me a lot.”

It would be many years before he would have the courage to return to the stage.

He ended up working on a cotton farm for ten years where he confessed to being hooked on alcohol and drugs.

Several years before Whey’s father, Terry passed in 2019, his mother, Katherine died. Before she passed, she asked that he get back into music.

“I've been sitting on a tractor for 8 or 9 years just singing to myself because even though you got a lot of manual labor to do on a cotton farm, there is also a whole lot of sitting on the tracker,” he stated.

Whey would spend hours sitting on the tractor singing and writing songs in his head. He would also sing all the Waylon Jennings songs, “not just because he’s my grandfather, but because he’s Waylon Jennings, you know.”

On his website, he admitted, “Out of 42 years on this earth, I lived 38 of them in the darkness. I was pretty well a functioning drug addict and an alcoholic. I found the light three years ago by the grace of God and my ‘Momager,’ Tammy Carolus” who was the main person who guided Whey on his path to sobriety.

Whey is now 42 years old, and he has been officially doing music since he was 30. But he has only been sober for the past three and a half years.

He confirmed, “I mean, extremely sober. I don't drink, I don't smoke weed. I don't smoke cigarettes anymore. I don't Vape, I don't do nothing. You know I eat well, and I keep a good diet. I go to the gym five times a week and, yeah, I've just been trying to be a good husband and father.”

Whey is married to Taryn Rae, stepdaughter of David Allen Coe. He met Taryn when they were both trying to get clean and initially hit rock bottom together. Whey eventually relented and attended a faith-based rehab center, where it was just him, his guitar, and the Bible.

“I was trying to find the answers and they were right there in front of my face,” he explained.

Since his successful stint in rehab, he confirmed that “My life has been blessing after blessing this whole last three and a half years. It's been one step up after another. I got all my kids back in my life. They've all forgiven me. I got a brand-new daughter. I got a beautiful wife and a home.”

Although he regularly visits, the Texas boy does not live in Texas or Nashville, but in Pennsylvania where his wife, Taryn is from. And though he does all his recording in Nashville, he tries to keep his business life separate from his home life.

So far, Whey’s biggest hit to date is “Lead Me Home” from his 2020 Gypsy Soul EP. The somber song was written right after his dad died in 2019. Since his mother had passed away a few years earlier, he was crying out to God, “Just take me home.” “I didn’t have nobody left,” he sadly remembered. It was written before his sobriety.

Now, Whey Jennings finds redemption and salvation on his critically acclaimed 3rd studio EP, Just Before The Dawn. The EP delivers his most personal, self-reflective, and storied set of songs he’s released to date. With next-level production by music producer Gary Carter and music videos to accompany the songs, Jennings is proudly carrying the torch that his grandparents pioneered by bringing traditional country music to the forefront.

Jennings has been teasing music fans throughout 2023 with storytelling song releases from the new EP. There’s the rowdy honky-tonk and autobiographical rocker “Wild Child,” that has the Jennings's DNA all over it. The smooth and mellow traditional flow of “Old Country Song” features Wes Shipp as it tips its hat to the past.

The cowboy crooner styled “Daredevil” is a song he wrote about his beautiful wife. “The idea and lyrics just came flowing out of my heart like honey from a hive because of how true it is. I’m her Daredevil and she is my rose petal!” His love for Taryn is palpable in the heartfelt tune.

However, it’s the raw emotional plea he makes on the title track “Just Before The Dawn,” that is by far Jennings's most powerful song he’s recorded to date. The pain he experienced from his former destructive lifestyle choices is evident in each word, syllable, and inflection of his gut-wrenching cry for help. In the inexplicable world that is real country music, hurt and heartbreak produce the very best songs on earth.

Thankfully, Whey Jennings is now a changed man. At a recent Opry event honoring Johnny Cash, he went to see his pal, Thomas Gabriel pay homage to his grandfather. The show closer was the one and only Chris Janson. He saw Whey sitting in the audience. He told him, “When I get home and I can’t sleep, I watch YouTube videos. I saw yours and they are amazing.” Whey was invited on stage to sing along to one of the tribute songs to the Man in Black.

Whey Jenning’s Just Before The Dawn EP continues to tell his story of redemption, with help from his faith, family, and friends. Now living within his newfound stable lifestyle, Whey is already beginning to establish his own musical legacy within his iconic Jennings family tree. Alongside other throwback country crooners like Creed Fisher and Johnny Cash’s grandson, Thomas Gabriel, Outlaw Country Music is in excellent hands.

You can follow Whey Jennings on his websiteInstagramFacebookX (Twitter)YouTube, and all music streaming platforms.

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Bethany Bowman is a freelance entertainment writer. You can follow her blogInstagramThreads, and X (Twitter)

Just Before The Dawn Track Listing
1. Wild Child (Whey Jennings, Wes Shipp)
2. Old Country Song (Whey Jennings, Wes Shipp)
3. Daredevil (Whey Jennings, Dylan Cornell)
4. Just Before The Dawn (Whey Jennings, Shane Grove, Mark Sucoloski, David Wade, Jerome Desotaeux)
5. The Woman Who No Longer Feels (Whey Jennings, Wes Shipp, Gary Weber)
6. One Together (Whey Jennings, Eric Caldwell)