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  • Smooth Jazz Network

Ragan Whiteside: Behind the Beats

Updated: May 4, 2022

Each week we'll take you 'Behind the Beats' to learn more about the artists that play on our airwaves. This week: Ragan Whiteside.

Ragan Whiteside is nearing the top of the charts again with her current single “Off The Cuff”. We grabbed a few minutes this past week and caught up.

Ragan, your current single “Off The Cuff” looks like it might just be another #1 for you! Congratulations. How did this single come about? Was it written during the pandemic?

Thank you!! I’m so honored that radio has embraced the song. Yes, this was primarily a pandemic composition. Dennis Johnson (my husband/producer/songwriting partner/voice of reason) created a track but he thought it wasn’t really my style, so he was going to shelve it. I pumped the brakes on that because I started to hear this melody… so I jumped into the recording booth and recorded a draft on the spot. It’s rare to have a song come together so quickly (pretty much out of nowhere) so we decided to call it “Off the Cuff”.

Over the past few years, you have blazed a trail for making the flute a lead instrument in smooth jazz. Tell us about your process when recording and writing for flute.

Generally, when people think of the flute they equate it with all things mellow. When I write, I try to put as much life and energy into the music as I can. The flute is very versatile, so it’s fun to be able to write music that evokes emotion and makes your head nod at the same time.

You are on the charts with (at least) three singles right now. You recently teamed up with Althea Rene on Kim Scott’s single “I’m Every Woman”…and it is pretty hot! Tell us about this collaboration.

I’m so glad you dig it! We wanted to do something to help empower women, especially women in music. Having 3 powerhouse flautists come together on this classic tune will hopefully help to change the perception of female artists and even out the playing field.

You also play on the latest single from Jarez “This Time Around.”

Yes, it was a pleasure working with Jarez and I’m so happy for his success! He really broke through like gangbusters on his latest album and it is well deserved.

You started piano at age 5, I believe…. Are JJ and Corey getting into music yet?

Yes, they both are! As a matter of fact, they are learning on the very same tinker piano I had when I was 5. They’re also learning the flute (they’re actually making sounds!) and the drums (waayyyy too much sound!). They seem to like it and as long as they’re having fun, I’m happy. I love watching them explore and develop their musical ear!

Any favorite tv shows binged lately?

We just finished Atypical on Netflix. It’s a coming-of-age series about a teenager on the autism spectrum. It was very well done! Now I’m just waiting for my guilty pleasure show to come back – Cobra Kai.

What is next for you? Any tour or live shows planned?

I will be in NY in October for the Yonkers Riverfront Jazz Series and then it’s all about finishing up my new album, which will be released in March 2022. Next year, I have shows lined up in Florida, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and more. Hopefully this is a sign that live music will be back in full swing next year!

Stay in the know by checking out Ragan Whiteside's website, here.

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