Since storming onto the Toronto singer-songwriter scene in 2011 Rose has endeared herself to just about everyone with her intriguing, affecting and effective songwriting, powerful voice, personal charm, and throwback style influenced by Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells and, gender-be-damned, the likes of Tom T. Hall and George Jones.
Hailing from Keppoch, P.E.I., she started singing at her grandparents’ kitchen parties as well as in their little P.E.I. bar, Union Hall, around the time she was learning to walk and/or form sentences. This comes across.
She may be young, but there’s an ancient appeal to her. As Exclaim! Magazine wrote, “At best, abstractly, Rose is something like Leadbelly singing ‘Goodnight Irene,’ beloved by young and old alike, timeless.”
Blue Rodeo’s Bazil Donovan, who co-produced her album along with David Baxter, says of Rose: “The reason I was drawn to Whitney was because she was playing real legitimate 1960s era country music, because there is none of that around on the radio anymore – there’s nobody that I know of that is making honest… what I call real country music. When I heard her songs, I heard what she was doing, I went hey – that’s real country music and I’m glad somebody’s interested in it.”
Rose’s debut album is set to be released in the fall on Cameron House Records. It features Donovan and Baxter on bass and electric guitar, respectively, as well as Michelle Josef (Prairie Oyster, Dr. John, Etta James) on drums, Devin Cuddy on piano and Nichol Robertson on a second electric guitar. Adding to the record’s stellar musicianship are Justin Rutledge, Wayne Petti (Cuff the Duke), John Borra (Rattlesnake Choir), Jamie Oliver (Big Tobacco and the Pickers) and Ted Hawkins (Lori Yates) on backing vocals, Bob Egan (Blue Rodeo, Wilco) on pedal steel, and Kendel Carson on fiddle.
Whitney Rose plays the Cameron House in Toronto every Saturday night from 8 to 10 p.m. in the historic front room.