The country music world was shocked when Runaway June parted ways with singer and guitarist Hannah Mulholland last week. Now, in an exclusive interview with Taste of Country Nights, listeners are learning that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic played a part in the musician's split from the group.

On Monday (May 18), Runaway June's Naomi Cooke and Jennifer Wayne appeared on the broadcast alongside Mulholland's replacement, Natalie Stovall. There, the trio revealed that homesickness had mostly spurred the musician's departure — but they admitted the COVID-19 crisis was the final push for Mulholland.

"The pandemic happened, and the world started changing," Cooke says. "As a lot of people have done, Hannah started to reevaluate what was important to her. And that was being with her family and her husband in California."

The singer continues, "Jen and I have nothing but love for Hannah. We support that, and we want her to be happy. So there's no drama here."

In Mulholland's May 14 statement, the now-former Runaway June member didn't mention a precise reason for her exit. ("It is bittersweet, but I am excited to continue to evolve and grow," she said). Now that it's out in the open, however, her onetime bandmates say they understand Mulholland's decision to leave.

"I think Hannah felt homesick and disconnected from her family for a while," Cooke adds. "Sometimes you don't even have time to think about that when you're going as fast as we've been going. Hannah got married last year, and this life and this work takes you away from your family. It's a sacrifice that we all make."

The "Buy My Own Drinks" hitmakers certainly do move fast. A day after Mulholland announced her departure, Runaway June made public that Stovall — the singer-songwriter and fiddle player who previously fronted Natalie Stovall and the Drive — had joined the trio as Mulholland's successor.

"We brought Natalie in because that third-part harmony was just too much to give up," Cooke explains. "We love being three people on the road and the stage. Natalie was the only other person that I was like, 'OK, this is [someone] that I'm gonna give a third of the band to.' It was Natalie or nobody."

The coronavirus has affected Runaway June in more ways than one. While she's since recovered, Wayne revealed in April that she'd been diagnosed with COVID-19. To be sure, the pandemic has hit country music hard as a whole. Both John Prine and Joe Diffie succumbed to the disease over the past few months.

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