Don Whitaker: “Death Does Not Come Humble,” and other poetic stories…

Don Whitaker is an Indiana singer/songwriter currently living in Putnam County Indiana. Don has been playing professionally since the age of 15, appearing in the horn section of the touring band, Morning Star, while also taking his turn at the mic as a young singer. Over the years Don became a sought after singer of rock, country and folk, while also becoming proficient on the guitar, bass, drums, piano, trumpet, trombone and fiddle. In early 2015, a chance meeting brought him to team up with writer/poet Ward Kelley. Ward says, “Don answered an ad he never read, appearing on my doorstep because he heard from a friend I was willing to pay a guitarist to help my daughter with her music videos.” This chance meeting led to the most unique collaboration of the two men’s artistic careers. Don and Ward are now busy building a musical/poetical portfolio of songs.

Don Whitaker
Don Whitaker

From the ethereally plaintive acoustics of “Gnarled Bones” and “Variations on Emily” to the electric slow romp of “Death Does Not Come Humble,” this is quintessential Americana music – a raw mix of Folk and Rock. Don Whitaker presents us with a dazzling set of gorgeous acoustic guitar playing, strong, moving lyrics and beautiful melodies galore, all held together by Whitaker’s gravelly, warm and expressive voice.

“Death Does Not Come Humble” is a bold yet tender song that separates death from its ‘tragic parting’ connotations. The poetry demands a melodic and emotional pathos that Don Whitaker brings to its peak, without forcing or falsely stylizing his vocal delivery. This is the kind of music that has a timelessness to it that cannot be beat. Inspired by the death of American landscape painter, George Inness, Ward Kelley’s lyrics looks at death from a different angle:

Death does not come humble, it arises,
a lion, unsettles air, a condor,
it springs from the ocean, canonizes,
like a dolphin cutting the sea’s top door.

Mount the back of this graceful, forgiving beast,
for you are the greatest,
for you are the least.

Don Whitaker’s arrangements are straight and simple to the heart -most consisting of an acoustic guitar accompaniment, rhythm guitar, and bass. Some are more developed into full-on country-folk-rock arrangements. Don Whitaker’s music (together with Ward Kelley’s lyrics), has a broad appeal for listeners. Especially for those who enjoy the folk-rock and acoustic music genres, as well as the music of the late 60’s and early 70’s, and what were the beginnings of the legendary singer-songwriter movement.

Don Whitaker is far removed from the kind of music that has since developed through the decades bringing us to the overproduction and sappy arrangements that plague so much of today’s current output. His music is raw and essential, reflecting a world-weary man’s view of the universe and what drives its daily existence!


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Rick Jamm

Journalist, publicist and indie music producer with a fervent passion for electric guitars and mixing desks !

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