Lori McKenna and Hailey Whitters Chat About the Journey of Their Grammy-Nominated Song

On October 29th, 2020, CBS held a televised special titled Every Vote Counts: A Celebration of Democracy in order to encourage the public to turn up at the polls to cast their votes for the 2020 election. Alicia Keys, who helped host the event alongside America Ferrera and Kerry Washington, teamed up with singer Brandi Carlile to pair an inspirational track with the TV event.

“A Beautiful Noise” was written by six women, including Carlile and Keys, Linda Perry, Ruby Amanfu, plus numerous hitmakers based in Nashville such as Hillary Lindsey, Brandy Clark, Lori McKenna, and Hailey Whitters. It was announced on November 23rd, 2021, that the track was nominated in one of the main categories at the 64th Annual Grammys. "A Beautiful Noise" appeared next to hits like "drivers license," "Kiss Me More," and "Peaches" being nominated for Song of the Year: one of the most anticipated categories each year that strictly awards the songwriters.


We got to chat to both Lori McKenna and Hailey Whitters about this accolade.


McKenna, who is no stranger to awards and ceremonies having won three Grammys of her own out of 11 nominations, was surprised over the nomination of “A Beautiful Noise.” “I was kind of shocked. I was so thankful that it got the attention,” she tells us. “It had such a journey to even be completed.” The track was written in the thick of COVID, making the process of constructing it happen through phone calls and Zoom sessions.


Being penned by eight different writers, the tune’s voyage began when Brandy Clark approached McKenna, Whitters, and Hillary Lindsey with the idea of writing about a woman’s right to vote, and from there it just rolled through a list of established and incredible artists and creators. “To be a part of that song has just been a blessing,” McKenna states, "Touching on things like race and sexual orientation in a broad way where anybody can listen to that song and hopefully put themselves in it and get empowerment from it.” McKenna always shares that she still hasn’t even met some of the other women on the song. “It’s an example of music bringing people together in kind of the craziest way. Songs take us on journeys,” she shares. McKenna hopes they can all convene at the award show this Sunday.

For Whitters, who just released her third album and has written for artists like Alan Jackson and Little Big Town in the past, it was her first nomination. Whitters reminisces on getting the call about the nomination; she was in a coffee shop when Brandy Clark gave her a ring. “She just said, ‘Hailey.’ I could tell that she was either gonna make me scream tears of joy or scream tears of sadness,” Whitters says. “I literally screamed.”


Just like McKenna, Whitters notes that it was a very collaborative effort and a songwriting experience that was unlike any other as she tells The Nash News, “It was the first time I’d ever done a song like that.” She continues, “It was a totally collaborative project through and through, and a very special song to get to be a part of and I remember seeing it being performed by Alicia and Brandi on the CBS special and kind of thinking maybe that was the end of the life for that song, but then to see it go on and be nominated for Song of the Year at the freakin’ Grammys it’s totally mind blowing and I’m just very proud and honored to have my name on the list next to all of those women.”


The 64th Annual Grammy Awards will air this Sunday, April 43rd on CBS Television Network.


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