Lainey Wilson's 'Whirlwind' Era Delves Into 'My Roots, My Values, My Heart'

Lainey Wilson’s life has been a whirlwind long before she used the word as the title of her next record.

The Baskin, Louisiana-born trendsetter is gearing up for her next chapter after her award-winning album, Bell Bottom Country, a project that earned the singer-songwriter her first Grammy Award earlier this year. Wilson, 31, has already released two tracks from Whirlwind — “Country’s Cool Again” and “Hang Tight Honey” — before kicking off her 2024 headlining tour. The highly-anticipated album is one she says will serve as “the more mature and Western sister to Bell Bottom Country.”

“I am so excited to finally announce Whirlwind. This album has been a long time coming and I can’t wait for the world to have this body of work in their hands soon,” Wilson said in a statement when she announced Whirlwind, slated to release on August 23. “This new chapter of music is the most cathartic and personal piece of art I’ve ever made. I hope this record brings some peace to your whirlwind and wraps its arms around you like it did for me.”

Whirlwind will arrive in the midst of Wilson’s 2024 headlining tour, where she’s planning a few “tricks” for the crowds. She’s also looking ahead to taking the stage again at CMA Fest, opening a new bar on Lower Broadway in Downtown Nashville, Tennessee (Bell Bottoms Up, which makes its debut shortly after Wilson hosted a pop-up bar) and much more throughout her “whirlwind” year.

Wilson is part of the star-studded lineup of the upcoming 59th ACM Awards, where she’s also nominated in several major categories. Other artists taking the stage include Post Malone, making his ACM Awards debut, Parker McCollumKelsea Ballerini and Noah KahanNate Smith and Avril Lavigne; husband-and-wife duo Blake Shelton and Gwen StefaniJason Aldean (delivering a tribute to late country star Toby Keith), Kane BrownJelly RollCody JohnsonMiranda LambertThomas Rhett and Chris StapletonReba McEntire will perform “brand new music” as she returns to host the show for the 17th time, more than any other artist. Smith, Megan Moroney and sister duo Tigirlily Gold were revealed as early winners of the upcoming show. They received the New Male Artist of the Year, New Female Artist of the Year and New Duo or Group of the Year awards, respectively. Tigirlily Gold will make their debut on the ACM Awards stage Thursday (May 16). See the full list of 59th ACM Award nominees here.

The show is set to return to Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, the world headquarters of the Dallas Cowboys, leading up to the milestone 60th year in 2025. This year’s ACM Red Carpet will kick off at 7 p.m. EDT/6 p.m. CDT/4 p.m. PDT. The show is set for Thursday, May 16 at 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT.

Wilson recently caught up with iHeartCountry in a Q&A. Read her responses below (edited for length or clarity).

iHeartCountry: So much has happened for you since we last caught up! To start, you released “Country’s Cool Again” earlier this year. Can you share how this song “sets the stage” for the music you’re working on following your Bell Bottom Country album?

Lainey Wilson: “Country’s Cool Again” was the first song I wrote for Whirlwind, so that track is truly what sets the stage for the rest of these songs. To me, Whirlwind is the more mature and Western sister to Bell Bottom Country, so when I wrote “Country’s Cool Again” I got to lean into my twang and have fun with some of the stereotypes that make the country way of life so fun.

iHC: You shared when “Country’s Cool Again” released that it welcomes everyone to “the Western way of life.” What does the Western way of life mean to you? How do you embrace that lifestyle? How will we see that reflected in your music/performances/other projects?

LW: I was raised on wide open land, riding horses, and spending time on the farm with my family. The Western way of life is at the core of who I am and what shaped me today. To me, it’s all about telling a good story and making people feel welcome! From the way I walk to the way I dress, being Western is something that shines through in my music, and I think with Whirlwind, you will definitely be able to see a new side of me and my music that points back to my roots, my values, and my heart.

iHC: Where do you often find that you draw inspiration from when you’re writing music these days?

LW: I find it everywhere in all honesty. I find ideas from my fans, from the stories I hear in meet and greet lines, from things I see on the news, from my friends and family. The beauty of songwriting is that you can hear or see something, whether it’s good or bad and turn those emotions into a song for people to hear and connect with.

iHC: Though we’re looking ahead to your next chapter, it also seems like you’re still marking new milestones with Bell Bottom Country, like releasing “Wildflowers and Wild Horses” as a single/premiering the music video. What has it been like for you to see the life that Bell Bottom Country has had since it released?

LW: It’s been absolutely incredible! Beyond my wildest dreams. ...Bell Bottom Country is the record that just keeps on giving, but I am so excited for this next era of music with Whirlwind, and can’t wait for people to hear it.

iHC: How has your experience been with your international shows this year? I saw the video you and Keith Urban posted of him driving you to the airport (with the hint about “Go Home W U”). Did Keith’s advice about Australia prepare you for the trip?!

LW: Keith’s advice definitely helped me throughout my travels in Australia! My international shows just wrapped, and it was truly an honor to meet so many people from all over the world. I’m starting to feel like I have roots everywhere now. It’s such a crazy feeling to have people in countries I’ve never even been before, singing back the words to my songs, sometimes in English and sometimes in other languages.

iHC: You’ve been able to work with some highly-respected artists and songwriters in your career, and now Keith is another one on that growing list. Another recent one was a cross-genre collaboration with The Black Crowes. Do you have any dream collaborations that you haven’t had a chance to pursue yet?

LW: I’d absolutely love to work with Victoria Monét and Miranda Lambert. They are two of the hardest working women in this industry and I think they have such a special talent, as not only performers, but songwriters as well. I am so inspired by them and their hearts. I also love Teddy Swims (I guess I’ve got a thing for face tats) and Sabrina Carpenter.

iHC: You’ve celebrated many achievements in recent months, including at the CMTs, winning your first Grammy Award, winning CMA Entertainer of the Year… What runs through your mind when you hear your name at these awards shows?

LW: Just how grateful I am for the support from my peers and my fans, my Wild Horses. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and graciousness I have received from my fans and music community, and I am so honored that they have been able to find their stories within my music.

iHC: “Hold my beer, watch this” was a very memorable way to accept one of your Female Vocalist of the Year award at the CMAs (along with your message to young girls watching you). Do you still find yourself motivated if someone says you can’t do something, “hold my beer, watch this?”

LW: Well, I’m always up for a challenge and bending the rules. …I always want my fans, and especially young girls to know that if someone is telling them “no,” to their dreams, then they are talking to the wrong person.

iHC: You got to appear in a Super Bowl ad this year (for Coors Light, with LL COOL J), and now have the Chill Amplified program offering a backstage experience for fans. You often seem to be very engaged with your fans… How important is it to you to connect with them?

LW: (The program) offers ways for fans to stay engaged with exclusive concert giveaways and backstage opportunities, which I think is so important for me to stay connected with my fans and meet them on the road with a Coors Light in hand.

iHC: Anything you can share about your upcoming Nashville bar, Bell Bottoms Up? Did your recent “Hold My Bourbon” pop-up bar offer any kind of a “preview” in any way for what might be coming to a permanent space?

LW: My Hold My Bourbon Bar pop-up experience with Barmen 1873 definitely gave me a taste of what I can expect by opening my own bar and I’m so excited for everyone to experience it. My bar will have a fun 70’s western feel to it and a Cajun-inspired menu for all my Louisiana folks! Bell Bottoms Up opens later this Summer, y’all stay tuned!

iHC: What else is coming up next for you that we should keep an eye out for?

LW: I just announced my brand-new album, Whirlwind which comes out August 23! I am so excited for everyone to finally get their hands on this music and play some of these tracks on my “Country’s Cool Again Tour” this year. We have some fun things up our sleeves!