On Friday (30/7), chart-topping singer-songwriter ERNEST and Iowa-bred rising country star Hailey Whitters announced COUNTRYPOLITAN, their new collab born in a co-writing session that honours the deep history of country duets records. Their first single, a sparkling cover of the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers classic “Islands In The Stream“, is out now alongside an official video directed by Harper Smith; along with the announcement that their debut COUNTRYPOLITAN, a 7-track collection produced by Jake Gear (Hailey Whitters, Flatland Cavalry) will be released on September 17th via Big Loud/Songs & Daughters/Pigasus.
Watch the official video for “Islands In The Stream” via YouTube
Listen to “Islands In The Stream” here
“When we were hashing through song ideas for this project, we knew we wanted to for sure do a cover. Ern brought up the idea of ‘Islands in the Stream’ and of course me, being a huge Dolly fan, was all about it,” explains Whitters. “Jacob Durrett laid the foundation for the reimagination of this song and I think he brilliantly found a way to reinvent the song in a way that can appeal to a newer, younger audience of country music listeners while still maintaining the integrity and feel of the original version. In both the visual and sound of this song, we wanted it to be bright and happy while continuing to spread a message and feeling of love and unity. I hope when listeners hear this song they can feel that.”
“I had mentioned an ‘Islands In The Stream’ cover because of the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton comparisons we both get,” shares ERNEST. “I wish Kenny Rogers were still alive so I could shake his hand, and I hope he would approve.”
The COUNTRYPOLITAN EP was inspired by a love for classic duets records by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, Tammy Wynette and George Jones, and Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty that ERNEST and Hailey were raised on, but haven’t heard a modern version of. In addition to “Islands In The Stream,” the EP features six original songs written by Hailey Whitters and ERNEST. Find a full tracklist below.
“The idea for this project came about one day as I was going down the rabbit hole listening to old country duets,” explains Whitters. “It seemed like back in the day everyone used to release collaboration records: Dolly and Kenny, Loretta and Conway, Tammy and George…. you don’t really see full length records like that anymore and I was thinking it would be fun to do a project like that in today’s modern era. I sat on the idea waiting for the right partner and the first day Ern and I wrote it just felt like a natural fit.”
“I didn’t know it at the time, but Countrypolitan means the Nashville sound,” adds ERNEST. “This is such a cool side project because I love old school music. It was fun to write with that in mind, but still with a fresh perspective. The production on this project is awesome, and the band was great. There are real strings, real fiddles. It feels like it all came together in the blink of an eye.”
On the heels of a breakthrough year where Whitters released her deluxe album LIVING THE DREAM, was nominated for her first-ever CMT Music Award (“Video of the Year” for “Fillin’ My Cup” feat. Little Big Town), and named the inaugural Opry NextStage artist of 2021, she will support Midland this fall on their national “The Last Resort Tour.”
Currently nominated for Breakthrough Artist-Writer of the Year at the 2021 MusicRow Awards, ERNEST recently notched his fourth #1 hit as a songwriter with Sam Hunt’s “Breaking Up Was Easy In The 90’s.” The MULTI-PLATINUM hitmaker has staked his claim as one of Music City’s most in-demand songwriters, while also carving a unique path as a Country artist in his own right with the small-town tribute “American Rust,” hand-on-your-heart anthem, “Cheers,” and his 2019 debut Locals Only. This winter, the Nashville native will join Chris Lane as direct support on the FILL THEM BOOTS TOUR, taking his one-of-a-kind lyricism and vocal flow from coast to coast.
1. Islands In The Stream
2. Say Anything
3. String Me Along
4. One Less Whiskey
5. White Limousine
6. Every Piece Of Me
7. Neon Silver & Jukebox Gold