Fresh off her whirlwind global travels on the reality competition show, The Amazing Race, Whitney Duncan is ready to get back in the country music game. The Tennessee native returns with her first new single in more than four years, “Roll All Night.” (Listen to the exclusive premiere of the song below.)
Duncan co-wrote the carefree, uptempo track with Josh Kear and Lady Antebellum guitarist-pianist Dave Haywood (who are two of the four co-writers on the Grammy-winning Lady A song, “Need You Now,” among a laundry list of other country hits.) Haywood also co-produced the song alongside his group’s longtime producer, Paul Worley.
“I’ve been a fan of Whitney’s for years and was so honored to work with her,” Haywood tells Rolling Stone Country. “Her voice is so authentic; she’s got soul and grit and an amazing ability to convey the real stories she writes about.”
Authentic… and unmistakable. Duncan sounds like no one else on country radio, with an impressive range and a Tennessee twang that’s evident to everyone but her.
“I say ‘roll all nat’,” the 30-year-old singer admits with a laugh. “My husband still makes fun of me for my I’s. I told somebody the other day, ‘I’m really only country when I say ‘I,” and she said, ‘You’re delusional; you’re country all the time.'”
Duncan isn’t sure if “Roll With It” will appear on an upcoming EP or full album. She has plenty of songs for the latter option but is still working on her comeback strategy. And while she wrote or co-wrote everything on her eponymous debut album, she looked to Nashville’s illustrious songwriting community this time around.
“We live in the best songwriting city in the world, so this time we really listened to other songs,” Duncan explains. “And now we have a really good mix of songs to set the tone for what could be a whole record.”
Duncan is known outside of the country music world for her role on the 23rd season of the hit CBS show, Survivor. She met her now-husband, Keith Tollefson on the show, and the two postponed their wedding to appear as one of 11 teams competing for a $1 million prize on the 25th season of The Amazing Race. While both CBS programs involve grueling physical challenges, Duncan says the one lesson she carried over from Survivor to Race was more of the mental nature.
“I learned how to keep my mouth shut!” she says with a smile. “You learn how to be accepting of people. I had that concept before, but it was really put to the test. They cast crazy characters with really Type A personalities!”
Duncan insists she and Tollefson aren’t in the reality show business to put on any sort of a “showmance.” Her attraction to both television programs was born out of love for a thrill ride, and turned into the thrill of competition.
“Our main goal was to have fun. Well that went right out the window on day one,” she reports. “That competitiveness kicks in, and that’s all you can think about. There’s a time for loving and kissing and calling each other ‘honey,’ but that’s not during one of the challenges. I don’t mince words; he doesn’t either. We are in game mode.”
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The Amazing Race premieres this Friday, September 26th at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.