An Insiders Guide to the JD BBQ: Local Caitlyn Wolaver will sing National Anthem at The Jack

Lynchburg native Caitlyn Wolaver will perform the National Anthem prior to The Jack’s Awards Ceremony on Saturday. (Photo Provided)

Lynchburg native Caitlyn Wolaver says singing the National Anthem at last year’s Jack Daniel’s World Invitational Barbecue was the most nervous she’s ever been.

“When I stepped on stage, my voice shook but then the whole crowd started signing along with me. It was an incredible experience,” Caitlyn says. “It sounded so beautiful to hear people from around the world, singing the anthem back to me. It moved me to tears.”

Last October’s Barbecue performance wasn’t the first for the local 19 year old who attends Motlow State and works at Miss Mary Bobo’s Restaurant. And she says the first time “certainly didn’t go as planned.” Her first public performance happened at the Project Graduation Horse Show in August 2020. In front of a crowd on mostly locals, Caitlyn’s stage fright got the best of her.

“I did not think I would ever sing in front of a crowd again,” she says.

But with encouragement from her best friend, Deliah Stewart, she tried again in February 2021 during a Moore County High School home basketball game. Caitlyn says she didn’t tell a soul – except her mother, Linda Wolaver, and Deliah – that she planned to sing prior to tip off.

“I still remember the Moore County Sports Network’s Jonah Deal announcing me as the anthem singer and hearing a collective gasp that sounded like a sonic boom in my head,” Caitlyn jokes. “When I finished, I honestly could not believe I had actually done it. I felt so grateful for all the support.”

Since then, she’s continued to sing at home Raider games including a huge home crowd for the Raiders 2021 Sub State game against Pickett County.

“I remember the gym being so packed and I was beyond nervous,” Caitlyn says.

Learning by mimicking other singers

Caitlyn says she’s never been trained formally to sing and learned mainly by mimicking singers she admired like Miley Cyrus during her Hannah Montana days. She also followed The Kingdom of Heirs gospel group that performs a Dollywood in Pigeon Forge.

“This is where I learned about breath control. I would sing in the car and practice holding out the notes like their lead singer at the time, Arthur Rice, would,” Caitlyn explains. “This band also taught me the different voices (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) and allowed me to hear all of them.”

Caitlyn performed in MCHS Band until her sophomore year and played alto saxophone, which led her to an interest in uke, piano, and guitar. She credits former Band Director Lauren Arnold with helping her determine her range and prepare her first for her first open mic night.

“I worked with her for about two to three months and learned a lot more about the bits and pieces of things that I picked up from mimicking other artists for years,” Caitlyn says.

Caitlyn says she leans toward country and pop though she admits her voice is more suited to country.

“I try to mix it up in my setlists. I actually spend a lot of time writing my own songs. I could not tell you how many notes I have in my phone of potential melodies and song ideas,” Caitlyn explains. “People don’t often compare me to other artists but I’ve been told I sound like Maddie & Tae.  Aside from them, I sing a lot of Taylor Swift and try to take leaves out of her book to put in my own music.”

In addition to her National Anthem performance at the The Jack’s Awards Ceremony Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m., Caitlyn will also perform at the Squire’s Village’s After the Q 2022 Squire’s Party on Saturday night. It begins at 5 p.m. and Caitlyn will perform from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The Squire’s Village is located at 733 Bakertown Road in Lynchburg. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently-owned, community newspaper located in Lynchburg, Tennessee the home of The Jack Daniel Distillery. We focus on public service, non-partisan, rural journalism. We cover the Metro Moore County government, local tourism, Moore County schools, high school sports, Motlow State Community College, as well as whiskey industry news and regional and state stories that affect our readers.}