Hailey Whitters’ ACM Win Is Years in the Making: ‘So Many Emotions’
She's got a decadent, delicious meal in mind to mark the occasion.
"I'm gonna go get a steak tonight. Yeah," the newly-minted ACM winner tells Taste of Country.
Whitters' trophy — which was handed out in advance of the main show on Thursday night (May 11) — marks a high point in the singer's long, slow climb to country success, which she began over a decade ago when she first moved to Nashville. In fact, the "Everything She Ain't" star admits that there were times during her stint as an aspiring star when she wasn't sure if a career in country music would ever work out.
"I mean, so many emotions. So special. I did not think I was gonna win. It was a total surprise and I've been in town for, like, 15 years, so I've dreamt so long long about getting to do this one day," she reflects. "And also just hitting that mark where I was like, 'I don't know if it's ever gonna happen for me.' So to get to have that moment ... feels very special."
But surreal, dream-fulfilling moments have been happening for Whitters more and more often over the past couple years. After achieving her first Top 25 radio single with "Everything She Ain't," the singer hit another milestone when she heard the song on her local radio station in her hometown of Shueyville, Iowa.
"That is, like — the moment, you know what I mean?" the singer says. "Growing up, [in the] backseat of a car, hearing country radio nonstop all day long, dreaming about being on your hometown radio station — I mean, I used to write them letters. I just stalked the crap out of them."
As a child, Whitters tried every way she could to get her name and voice on the radio, but she dreamed that she would do it as a bona fide country star.
"And now, it's all happening, so it's very surreal," she notes.
The 2023 ACM Awards will air from Frisco, Texas' Ford Center. Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks are set to co-host the show, marking the first time that Brooks has ever hosted a major country music awards show.