Nearly a year and a half after being named runner-up on season 20 of “American Idol,” behind her good friend Noah Thompson, country singer-songwriter HunterGirl is on cloud nine over the soaring success of her first single, “Ain’t About You.”
On October 23, 2023, HunterGirl — born Hunter Wolkonowski — learned that her vulnerable ballad, which she wrote when she was considering giving up on her dream of a music career, is suddenly the most-added song at country radio stations across the U.S. — a feat usually achieved by the biggest names in country music.
“I have been crying all day,” she shared in an Instagram post hours after receiving the news. “Thank you so much to everyone at country radio who added this song, my incredible team, all of y’all here on social media that have believed in me, my family, and most of all God. This is a song I never thought anyone would hear, and now it is my first single. I am so excited and thankful! What a day”
Here’s what you need to know:
HunterGirl’s First Single Also Lands Her in the Record Books
The recent release of HunterGirl’s first single, “Ain’t About You,” was nerve-wracking for the rising star because its message is so personal. After years of pounding the pavement in Nashville, she wrote the song at a time when she was questioning whether she should just give up.
The 25-year-old, who now goes by the “HunterGirl” nickname given to her in elementary school, did not give up after all. In fact, within weeks of writing “Ain’t About You,” she earned a chance to audition for “Idol” judges Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry — and impressed them and viewers enough to last all the way to the season finale.
Thompson received a record deal with BBR Records as part of his prize for winning “Idol,” but the company also signed HunterGirl to its Wheelhouse Records label.
In press materials about HunterGirl’s huge achievement on country radio, label reps said she’s also earned herself a spot in the record books by becoming the first female country artist in over 30 years to write her debut radio single herself.
The official music video for “Ain’t About You” will make its world premiere on CMT on November 2. But HunterGirl first premiered the video for a sold-out crowd in her hometown of Winchester, Tennessee, on October 2. According to BBR, the event raised $6,000 for the Isaiah 117 House, a local charity that provides foster children awaiting placement a loving and safe home.
In a video from the event, HunterGirl said, “Whenever I wrote ‘Ain’t About You,’ I was in probably the hardest place in my life. That was two years ago and nothing was really working out for me in Nashville and it’s been my dream since I was a kid.”
After a particularly hard day when she felt like giving up, she picked up her guitar to write one more song.
“It was supposed to be my ‘I’m leaving Nashville’ song, and it wound up being my ‘I’m staying in Nashville’ song,” she said.
Noah Thompson & Chayce Beckham Encouraged HunterGirl to Share New Song With the World
Although the song’s message convinced HunterGirl to stay and things turned around as she landed on “American Idol,” HunterGirl kept the song private for a long time.
According to BBR, she didn’t share it until after season 20 of “Idol,” when she was hanging out at a Nashville BBQ with Thompson and season 19 “Idol” winner Chayce Beckham. They both loved it so much, they insisted she had to share it with their shared record label — and the world.
In July 2023, she finally worked up the nerve to share it via social media, playing part of the tune on her acoustic guitar.
“I’m writing this because I want to share a really personal song with y’all,” she wrote on July 18. “I call this song my 45 minute conversation with Jesus. This song kept me in Nashville two years ago, and little did I know a few weeks later everything would change.”
On HunterGirl’s latest post about the radio play her song’s receiving, multiple members of the “Idol” family posted words of congratulations.
Season 18 winner Maddie Poppe commented, “Wow. This is amazing! Congrats!❤️❤️”
Grace Leer, a season 18 alum who’s carved out her own successful country career, added, “Yesss girl let’s go!!!”
“Ain’t About You” is produced by award-winning producer Lindsay Rimes, who’s also worked with Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini.