Just a year ago Canadian transplant and Austin sweetheart Whitney Rose was celebrating the release of her fourth album, We Still Go To Rodeos with a busy touring schedule opening up for Mavericks front man, Raul Malo when all things came to a halt, including rodeos. Rose herself was scheduled to play one in Dallas.
“Normally I would have been to 15 different countries promoting it and playing the songs live so it was definitely a weird release,” says Rose who is getting ready to finally bring these songs to audiences at her rescheduled dates with Malo.
“I feel bad for it, “says Rose of her beautiful album We Still Go To Rodeos. “It’s like a middle child,” she laughs. “I’ll continue to play those songs for a long time but also there's just something in me that needs to do something new and so I'm in the very, very early stages of working on a new record.”
Malo and Rose will be playing The Heights Theater for their rescheduled two-night run on Tuesday, April 27 and Wednesday, April 28 with two shows a night, an early and late show. The Heights Theater has been maintaining its live music with socially distanced and masked indoor shows.
“I'm excited to be on a stage with real live people in front of me, making music with my friends and also employing my band. I was so excited to get the call for these rescheduled shows because I haven't been able to employ my band, and that really means the world to me. Also, just being on the road, it's not always glamorous, but it's a lifestyle and I've gotten used to it and I miss it like crazy.”
Throughout the pandemic, Rose has performed online and says she has been overjoyed and surprised by the supportive messages and donations made by fans. The Houston show will be her first time back in front of an audience since November when she took part in the farewell concert series at Austin's Threadgill's aimed at celebrating the historic venue before it sadly closed its doors for good.
“I'm excited to be on a stage with real live people in front of me, making music with my friends and also employing my band."
“That was a tough show, not musically because I had my band. That was my last public performance and I was just so, so overwhelmed. Usually I get overwhelmed and I can rein it in, but this night I just could not,” says Rose solemnly.
“I was thinking about Threadgill's closing, I was thinking about how basically this is the last time in the foreseeable future that I'm going to be able to employ my band who I love dearly and I don't know the next time that I’m going to be on the stage either.”
“I was just so overwhelmed. It was embarrassing, it was awful and I tried to hide it but that just kind of made it worse so I just let it go for a second, had a little cry and tried to push forward.”
Rose was thrilled when she received the call to push forward yet again and return to the stage for these few Texas dates with Malo, a longtime friend and collaborator. Malo produced Rose’s 2015 release, Heartbreaker Of The Year.
“He’s one of my greatest friends,” says Rose. “I don't know what I’d do without him, whether it's that I just need a laugh or some career advice, he's there immediately. He’s a good guy to have in your corner and he's a good guy to have in any room because he's hilarious.”
It was through her friendship with Malo and the success in the United States of Heartbreaker Of The Year that Rose ended up in Austin where she has lived since 2015. Malo scored Rose with a two-month residency at Austin’s Continental Club. She says from day one she knew she would be hanging her hat in the capital city.
“It's one of the greatest honors of my life,” says Rose of her residency. Though Austin’s Continental Club is not open yet, she is hopeful and eager to return to her spot there. Despite the hardships felt throughout Austin due to the pandemic, her appreciation for the city which embraced her so warmly, has not waned.
“I love it. I came late, I moved here in 2015 and so people said to me then, and still say to me now, that it's a completely different city from what it once was but I still love it. I don't see myself leaving anytime soon.”
Rose quickly made herself at home in Austin’s busy music scene with her sweet and classic country sound. Rose’s voice naturally packs a soulful punch taking listeners into each story she weaves with her songs, whether originals or well selected covers she’s come to be known for.
Though Texans may not think of Canada as an obvious place to be exposed to southern sounds, Rose from a young age was immersed in country music through her family and began singing at a very early age, possibly explaining her dynamic voice which pours out in a seemingly effortlessly manner.
“I don’t know if I had the typical Canadian upbringing. My mother was very young when she had me so my mother and I lived with my grandparents who are huge, huge country music fans. They owned a bar and it was just country music at the house and at the bar all the time so I come by it honestly.”
Rose remembers nights at home as a three-year-old child where her family’s “kitchen parties” would awaken her. She’d crawl out of her little bed and sing old country songs for one dollar a piece. “I loved it, I lived for those nights,” says Rose. “My grandmother jokes that I was singing before I was talking.”
Whitney Rose will perform with Raul Malo Tuesday, April 27 and Wednesday April 28 at The Heights Theater, 339 W. 19th. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the early show and 8:45 p.m. for the late show, all performances are Sold Out.