If you’ve been in Nashville for the past couple decades, the name Bill Whyte might be a familiar one. During his time as an air personality on both WSM-FM and WSM-AM, Whyte became established on the air in Nashville after a long Midwestern radio career. But to those in the music community, Whyte is known as a writer and performer of songs both serious and comedic, with choice cuts in the comedy, Christian and Bluegrass Gospel fields, among others.
With former Statler Brother Jimmy Fortune, Lady A’s Hillary Scott, and Carrie Underwood backup singer Sydni Perry, Whyte co-wrote the song “Safe Haven” from the Grammy-winning Love Remains album by Hillary Scott and the Scott Family. He was a co-writer on the song “Finger Pickin’ Good” by Kristy Cox with legendary guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, which won the Australian equivalent of a CMA Award in 2021 for Best Bluegrass Recording of the Year. And in 2016 he landed a #1 Bluegrass Gospel cut with “He’s A Coming,” recorded by Darin and Brooke Aldridge. But perhaps more than anything, Whyte specializes in comedy songs, with his work having been recorded by humor masters like Ray Stevens and Cledus T. Judd (and he recently learned that Judd is cutting yet another of his tunes).
Whyte himself has been performing since he was a teenager in Missouri, and has traded the mic in the broadcast booth for a mic on the stages of America, singing his mix of comedy and serious songs at festivals, comedy clubs, casinos and more with friends like Hillary Scott’s mom Linda Davis and hit songwriter Steve Dean (George Strait, Sister Hazel). He’s especially popular along the Gulf Coast and deep into Florida, where he’ll be working for much of the rest of this year and into 2023.
“I’ve made friends with some of those guys in what they call the ‘trop-rock’ world,” he said, “which is basically a name for guys who play beach music and record beach-type albums like Jimmy Buffett. The ‘parrothead’ chapters all over the world book shows, it’s all tropical-type music, and because of that I’ve started adding more dates in the tropical region down there.”
Whyte has an advantage in terms of making a living over many songwriters, since his outgoing personality and skill as a singer and guitarist allow him to climb onstage and engage the audience himself. “It’s so hard to get somebody to cut your song to begin with,” he said, “and now in the streaming world with the money going away, it’s even harder to make a living as a songwriter. But because of having had a great radio career, it allowed me to be able to be a songwriter. Making a living as [only] a songwriter these days, it’s very tough.”
Whyte has enjoyed success in practically everything he’s put his hand to, and he shows no signs of slowing down. “I’m one of those guys that just still loves every bit of it,” he said. “I love the creative process, and I think for those who are gonna survive in this business that’s the way you’ve got to be, you’ve gotta be so ate up with it and love it so much that you do it every day. You’re driven to do it, nobody’s standing over your shoulder going, ‘You know, you need to get up and write a new song,’ you shouldn’t need somebody else, it should come from the inside, you should love it that much. And fortunately I do.”
You can follow Whyte’s latest adventures on the road and elsewhere at billwhytecomedy.com.