Oregon Born & Raised, Singer/Songwriter
Few new artists in the music field can boast that their debut single surpassed one million plays on You Tube, so Oregon born & raised, Singer/songwriter Whitney McClain doesn’t take accomplishing the feat for granted. Not only has her infectious track “Bombs Away” achieved this goal, it has been picked up by iHeartRadio stations and even been covered by a fan. Most recently Whitney was nominated by the Independent Music Awards for “best Urban EP.” This has been the path for Salem native Whitney McClain.
“I am so blessed” says the 23-year-old singer. “To know that people that I don’t even know are fans of the music that I sing is just surreal. It’s just crazy and having my EP nominated for an IMA at the Lincoln Center in New York City was amazing. Whitney began her musical journey with the help of her uncle, Marlon McClain who referred her to Grammy Award winning producer songwriter Mauli Bonner for his evaluation. As Whitney recalls Mauli said he heard something – a unique quality he wanted to bring out. “Bombs Away” was the first song Whitney recorded after teaming up with producer and songwriter Mauli B just over 2 years ago. “Mauli just wrote it there on the spot in the studio” Whitney recalled. It’s great – I am definitely an old soul and this song suits my style. I love the old Motown vibe of the song, talking about self-worth. It totally speaks to my life.”
When her family and friends describe Whitney they mention how shy she is, her kind heart and her strength in overcoming challenges. The challenges friends and family are referring to are the two brain surgeries that Whitney has had to remove a recurring brain tumor.
Her grandmother, Senator Jackie Winters, who represents Salem’s District 10, recalls this frightening time for the family. “One minute we had a child who was happy & healthy but having severe headaches sporadically and the next minute she is in critical condition and being rushed to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital for an emergency brain resection.”
Whitney doesn’t recall much of time surrounding her first operation but remembers the struggle to rehabilitate afterwards and the frustration learning how to cope with a brain that isn’t quite the same. As Whitney looks back on this time she states “the second time around was much more scary for me – I was part of the process deciding when to have the second surgery. Hearing the possible complications was terrifying – I was in middle school and facing the unknown was frightening. Knowing I would have to begin all over again with rehabilitation and not knowing how my brain would be – it was just a lot to deal with.” This is where family and friends say her strength showed. She worked really hard to try and regain all of her functions. She realized that she learned a bit differently and that she had to work much harder in school.
All of that hard work paid off when she was accepted into some wonderful colleges and eventually picked the University of Texas in Austin. “I loved Austin and UT from the minute I set foot on the campus. I love the music and the southern manners – it just called to me.”
While in school in Texas she faced another health challenge when she suffered a severe concussion. Whitney again rose to the challenge and overcame the injury. She found that her music was her strength and her comfort and that is when she reached out to her Uncle Marlon about pursuing a career in the music industry.
Whitney has recently released debut EP entitled Nothing to Lose. The title of EP is a testament to her decision to fully commit to her music. “Bombs Away” was the first release offering a feel good throwback sound complimented with Whitney’s inviting vocals. It was followed by an emotional ballad co-written by Marlon McClain II and Ralph Stacy titled ‘Nothing Left”. Whitney pours out her soul as she sings about finding the strength to walk away form a bad relationship featuring a bluesy vibe. Whitney speaks of her surprise when this track quickly went over one million views on You Tube as well. “It is such a blessing to have people relate to my music and feel that it touches them”.
The most recent video release titled “Heart Games” Whitney co-wrote with Mauli B and is
Whitney’s most personal song on the set. The finger-snapping pop track is highlighted with airy chimes and recounts a nasty breakup. “It was pretty rough,” Whitney explains – the song is basically about finding closure with an ex. Mauli helped capture my anger and frustration helping me turn my real life narrative into a song I love.” This video is well on its way to a million views with 885,383 views and counting.
When asked what the future holds Whitney answered “First, I just want to thank my family and friends who have been so supportive. I am determined to overcome my shyness and fear and pursue my dreams.” I want to share the message that you can overcome life’s challenges with faith, hard work and determination. I hope that people can relate to where I have been and where I am trying to go.”
Whitney local ties include Abiqua Grade School, Judson Middle School and South Salem High School singing in choir every step of the way. She was a proud member of the South Salem High Symphonic Choir when they won the State Championship in 2010. She has participated in many activities to support Doernbecher Children’s Hospital including designing a shoe with NIKE for the Doernbecher Freestyle Program, radiothons and telethons and continuing to raise money for them. “Doernbecher saved my life – I am happy to give back any way I can. You don’t realize how important a place like Doernbecher is until you need it.”
Whitney is managed by her uncle industry veteran Marlon McClain the former leader and guitarist for Pleasure. Marlon’s Mac Man Music Inc., has written and produced for numerous artists including Jeff Lorber Fusion, Nu Shooz, George Benson, Keith Sweat and Kenny G. When asked about his niece McClain stated “Whitney is a talented young lady who has overcome numerous personal obstacles,” “We have surrounded her with a team of professionals who will help develop her talent. We are looking forward to making great music, now and in the future.
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