FEATURED ARTIST – Wic Whitney
Photographer: Park Lanford
1. How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I would say I’m a mildly blunt and an unapologetically queer singer/songwriter that primarily pulls from the folk, soul, and hip hop genre’s. I love genre blending and bending! There’s so much fun in the in-between. Growing up and being influenced by many artists in different genres, it always felt ridiculous to try and fit into just one.
2. What made you want to become an artist?
Honestly, creative control. I always loved entertaining, I got my bachelors in acting actually, but as I got older I found out how important it was to decide what type of art I was putting out there. Music was my first love and since I had been doing it the longest and could have mastery over my creative choices I chose to go down that path.
I want to be me as I am, not me through a character. I still love acting, but being a voice for queer gender-non-conforming people is what is important to me right now. This is the best way I know how to do it. I feel like I have stories to tell that people can relate to, maybe people who feel more alone than others.
3. Since you were born in Arkansas, when and why did you come to Chicago and how is your experience there?
I came to Chicago for college! I moved up in 2013 when I was 18. I got accepted into a really good performing arts school up here and I wanted a different adventure. I felt like I had seen all of Little Rock that I needed to. Don’t get me wrong, I love my hometown, it’s my heart. I just wanted to try on a new city and see how it fit. It ended up being the best decision I’ve made in life thus far.
I’ve become my happiest, most authentic self here and it’s all thanks to the people I’ve met. Over the years I’ve been blessed with incredible mentors, peers, and friends who’ve taught me how to ask myself the right questions and how to be okay with not having an immediate answer. I’m grateful to them for helping me bloom into the person I am.
4. After moving to Chicago were there any Chicago artists that inspired you?
Of course! This city is talented as fuck! The list of local musicians that inspired/inspire me to be better is longer than long but to name a few: Charlie Powell, Ajani Jones, Leale, Ellie Banke, and Daylight Tone. Check their stuff out, it’s incredible.
5. Any other inspirations?(musically and/or non-musically)
Way too many, but the classics are Outkast, Erykah Badu, Louis Armstrong, Willie Nelson, Barbra Streisand and David Attenborough.
6. What kind of mindset do you put yourself in when you’re writing a song?
I write songs based on the mindset I’m in, if that makes sense. I’ve been in a variation of different moods and wanted to write. It’s kind of like my journal. How I’m feeling dictates the song that comes out. Whenever I’m writing, the only consistent reminder I give myself is to be honest. Telling myself: “Don’t try to be somebody else or compare yourself to someone else, just be you. Give what you’ve got to give today. Whatever happens, happens, let’s not take this all too seriously baby. In the end, nothing matters.”
7. Favorite song/project you’ve made so far and why?
I actually just got done recording a project called Afternoon Tea and it’s by far my favorite thing I’ve done. For the first time, I feel like I’m writing about how I feel day-to-day. In the past, I felt like I had to be more dramatic with some things and less dramatic with others and this time around I feel more vulnerable and honest. It’s frightening but at least it’s true and that’s exciting.
8. Is there any artist right now that you would like to work with?
It would be harder to find an artist that I wouldn’t want to work with. A dream collab I’ve been thinking about recently is Chika. I think she’s phenomenal and we could make some amazing queer art together.
9. What can we expect from your next project?
I’ll just say at the very least you’ll get to know me a lot better. It’s much more intimate and a lot gayer! That’s never a bad thing!
10. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Making a living off of my art, helping my artistic friends with their ventures and spending more time doing things that I want-instead of doing things out of necessity.
Biography: Wic Whitney, an Arkansas-bred, Chicago-based creative, melds southern soul and smooth rhythm into quick-witted and introspective storytelling that invites his fans to be present in every moment.
Whether it’s a night out at the bars, or an evening in with friends, Wic’s unique singer-songwriter blend creates a space that welcomes everyone, and a performance you won’t soon forget.
Prior to the pandemic, Wic made himself a staple of the SoFar Sounds Chicago scene and the city itself. Additional recent performances include headlining at the famous HVAC Pub, regular appearances at Uncommon Ground and The Playground Theater, and many mini-concerts for his ever-patient roommates.
Wic would like to remind each person reading this Black lives matter, Trans lives matter, and your life matters. Now go drink a glass of water, take a moment for yourself, and call your mama.
Check out more great featured artists here!