March 18

Alison Krauss Covers Keith Whitley’s “When You Say Nothing at All”

Keith Whitley had never scored a number one song on the chart when he began his career. But, in 1988, he finally earned his first song at number one. “When You Say Nothing at All” was a song penned by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz in 1988. The songwriters shared that they thought the song was only average. It wasn’t a great song they thought, but they still pitched the song to Whitley.

Keith Whitley’s Chart Performance

When Whitley heard the song, he was determined to make it enter the chart. Surprisingly, it did not only enter the country chart, but it gave Whitley his first number one song. Furthermore, it crossed over to the pop chart also at number one.

Different Covers

“When You Say Nothing at All” became a song that is often covered by artists from different genres. Two most notable versions were from Ronan Keating and Alison Krauss.

Alison Krauss’ “When You Say Nothing at All” Version

Let’s take a look at Krauss’ first and only song on the top ten of the country chart as a solo artist. In 1994, Krauss and her band Union Station were invited to cover a Whitley song. She and her band were tasked to record Whitley’s first hit song “When You Say Nothing at All.” It was recorded for the tribute album Keith Whitley Tribute.

alison krauss keith whitley when you say nothing at all
Photo Credit: Alison Krauss/ Official Facebook Page

The following year, it was released as a single, and Krauss’ version reached number three on the country chart. It has also crossed over to the pop chart at number fifty-three.

Krauss was surprised that the song was charting. She wasn’t expecting it to enter the Billboard chart. Moreover, she wasn’t expecting it to chart at the top ten of the country chart.

Her version earned her a CMA award for “Single of the Year” in 1995.

Watch this beautiful rendition of Alison Krauss and her band, Union Station.


Mike Cromwell electronically combined Krauss’ version with Whitley’s. The result was a superb collaboration. Sadly, the song was never released on radios.


Alison Krauss, keith whitley

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