Rags and Riches: Two brothers and a band


Peyton Whitt, left, and Tanner Whitt, right, pose for a photo at the University of Kentucky. Photo by Tate Media Productions.

Lindsey Davis, Staff reporter

Tanner and Peyton Whitt, born and raised in Lexington, make up the self-proclaimed “adrenalized American pop-rock” brother duo called Rags and Riches.

Tanner Whitt, 29, is the lead singer and guitarist, while Peyton Whitt, 24, is the drummer and producer. The duo has done over 200 performances in over 40 states. They also charted in the top 200 on NACC College Radio and won two Lexington Music Awards for Pop Artist of the Year and Song of the Year. In the past three years, they have received a total of over 3 million streams and over 1.5 million video views.

The two got their start in music by playing at their church growing up. They were also inspired by the 2005 film about Johnny Cash, “Walk the Line.”

From a young age, Tanner Whitt knew that he wanted to do something in the entertainment industry.

“I liked being an entertainer as a whole. Once we started playing more music, I would say, once we were getting in front of a lot of people, I realized I wanted to do this full time,” he said.

Once Peyton Whitt asked his brother to create the band in 2017, they knew that it was the path that they were supposed to take.

“We kind of felt like we had something special, just because it was super, like, natural,” Tanner Whitt said.

Two years later, they released their debut single titled “Speed of Sound,” which is what “lit the spark for a wildfire breakout” for the band, according to the group’s website. The song has received over 875 thousand streams, and the video has gotten over 520 thousand views.

“After ‘Speed of Sound’ did so well, we were like, ‘Okay, this is what we’re going to do for the rest of our lives,’” Tanner Whitt said.

On June 10, 2022, the band released their debut album titled “Always Gold,” which got over 1.4 millon streams in the first week. They decided to release the album on that date because it is their mother’s birthday.

“That was super special to us because, while we were on tour, we had already planned on releasing it then, but then we found out she had breast cancer, so it was even more special to us to be able to release this album for her,” Tanner Whitt said.

The band is now signed to SonaBlast! Records, an independent record label based in Louisville, which was Jack Harlow’s first record label.

The brothers have been creating a catalog of their music since 2017, and some of those songs are what make up the album.

“We played our first show, and we only had ‘Speed of Sound’ out with a lot of the other songs that are on the album. We played it, and it went over extremely well with the crowd. It’s basically the crowd favorites,” Peyton Whitt said.

When it comes to the songwriting process, they like to switch it up.

“Sometimes he [Tanner Whitt] will come with a chorus or something and I’ll, like, start producing music or I’ll already have something musically created and then we start to come up with lyrics for it,” Peyton Whitt said. “We like to keep it creatively open.”

Tanner Whitt said his favorite song to perform is “Victim” because he thinks it’s their most underrated song, but the crowds always seem to love it when they perform it live.

Peyton Whitt’s favorite song to perform is “Pressure,” which features Will Levis and other UK football players in the music video.

They just released their latest single, “Talk,” on Sept. 23 and performed it live for the first time at their headliner show at Clubhouse as a part of their “I’m That Problem Tour” with Jay Joseph.

As a word of advice to others who want to pursue a career in music, Tanner Whitt said:

“Anytime you feel like you’re building a bit of momentum, like, don’t ride off that moment. Let it keep driving you more and more. For us, there’s been moments where we get a lot of momentum going and then we kind of, like, don’t have anything to follow it up with. I would recommend staying extremely consistent with everything that you’re doing in that path.”