Forest Glen Whitehead | Behind the Scenes
Every song has a story, and that’s one of our favorite things about music – the story behind the song. Especially in country music – where the songs tell tales of struggle, heartache, love, hardship, and more. Recently we had the opportunity to go one-on-one with one of our favorite songwriters in Nashville.
Before earning award-winning success from co-writing and producing chart-topping hits with Kelsea Ballerini, Forest Glen Whitehead was a music-loving Louisianan. Hailing from Blanchard, Louisiana – a small town on the outskirts of Shreveport, Forest Glen Whitehead grew up listening to music across a variety genres including country, hip-hop, and rock.
Since moving to Nashville after high school to pursue a music career, Forest has had the opportunity to work with some of today’s biggest country music stars including Kelsea Ballerini, Carrie Underwood, Brantley Gilbert, and Dylan Scott. View tour dates of these artists
We first learned of Forest Glen Whitehead from the Bobby Bones’ podcast, Bobbycast. This podcast has hands down become a must listen to for us. If you’re not familiar with the Bobbycast, country radio mogul – Bobby Bones, launched a podcast a couple of years ago where singers, songwriters, and even artists talk candidly with Bobby for about an hour from his in-home studio. This podcast has helped us discover the unique stories behind some of our favorite country songs. Listen now to hear Forest talk with Bobby about his musical background and earning success in Nashville.
Q & A | Forest Glen Whitehead
[Country Clones – CC ] Do you analyze and critique every song that you hear now that you’ve had some success?
[Forest Whitehead – FW] No, like most people, I have songs I love and songs not so much that I hear on the radio but honestly 90% of the time I listen to something so far away from the lane I’m creating in. Mostly older 90s country or current urban rap r&b.
CC | What’s a song you have stuck in your head these days?
FW | “She Never Let’s It Go To Her Heart” by Tim McGraw
CC | What up and coming artists do you think are ready to become breakout stars? In other words, who do you think we should keep an eye out for?
FW | I’ve been hearing this group play around Nashville called Seaforth. Their shit is awesome! I’ve only heard them at writer rounds and haven’t heard any production on it yet but the few songs I’ve heard are killer. Another fellow Louisiana artist that I love is Lainey Wilson. She’s country. True country. She can’t help but be country and I love that.
Where do you start when writing a song? Obviously, it’s different than writing an essay or other styles of writing — tell us about how you learned to write songs.
FW | It’s different every time. It can start with a musical idea or a lyrical hook. Depending on what writers I’m with that day, I work in different ways. Some will follow me into the unknown with the vibe of a cool melodic musical idea and we’ll figure out the hook or title of the song later. Sometimes you can write your way into something cool and sometimes a writer won’t even touch a guitar before they know how lyrically it will all play out. I love working both ways because I learn something each time I map an idea out before committing to a musical vibe because I naturally just wanna jam on something till it turns into something cool. I learned about writing songs from being a fan of songwriters here in Nashville and LA, studying their work, even the uncut songs that I love. I’m just a super fan of songs writers and producers and hope to write and produce something that moves people the way the songs I love, do for me.
CC | Most of your songs are love stories, which we love… but so much of popular country music is about partying and drinking, do you ever find yourself influenced by that topic or do you specifically avoid it?
FW | I have drinking songs too! Haha. Not a lot though. I am in love so I can easily go into a love song idea and have something to contribute. I always think about when they say write what you know. I know how to have a good time, partying and drinking and all that but I believe my best songs are the ones that ring true to me and most of them are the ones that have a positive look at life and love.
CC | How do you keep your lyrics original? There are so many good songs out there, how are you still able to enjoy listening to music without subconsciously copying lyrics?
FW | I try to write like I talk. I talk like where I’m from. Not too many people are from where I’m from so hopefully it hits other peoples ear differently. That doesn’t work in every session but the joy of co-writing is you get to hear how someone else would say it. I trust my cowriters that at the end of the session if we all sign off on the song to be done we all feel like the lyric is unique and cool. There can be inevitable influences of things we love shining in parts of what we create, but hopefully not straight up ripping other songs off. That’s not cool. I don’t wanna do that. Another reason why I listen to rap is that it clears the pallet for me and I’m not being influenced by songs currently in the market of radio I’m reaching for.
CC | So many artists seem to come and go in the music industry, what do you think is the key to staying relevant?
FW | I’m not the right person to ask about staying relevant. I don’t think I’ve been doing this long enough to have a good answer for that. But I’ll tell you I’m going to continue doing this as long as it makes me happy. If one day it doesn’t, I’ll learn to do something else. Every artist or songwriter wants people to connect with what they create. Sometimes they do and sometimes not. I don’t do this for anyone but myself. I enjoy believing I have something to give to music and my creative community and will continue giving to it until there ain’t nothing left in me.
Country music is constantly evolving, where do you see the style of music being in 5 years?
FW | Who knows really. Could it even get more pop? I think there will be more genres available on radio kinda like your selection to choose from on XM. They have so many different kinds of “country” stations that hone in on what era of country music you enjoy, 80s, 90s, 2000s country, current country. I love it all. Most younger music consumers go to Spotify or Apple Music anyways so they specifically choose what they wanna hear instead of being spoon-fed by radio.
CC | If you could have any artist in any genre, cut one of your songs, who would it be?
FW | Tim McGraw or Aerosmith.