BRYAN WHITE - A GIANT STEP IN THE WHITE DIRECTION
by Michael Settle
You know how it is. You hear someone's voice that you haven't met, and you get a mental picture of the person, right? Well, when I first heard Bryan White's voice, I saw a John Wayne sized person, with a huge physical presence, a booming speaking voice and a large ego to go with it. Wrong on all counts. Bryan is well under six feet tall, has the cherubic look of a choir boy, speaks softly and is as polite and genial as he is talented. To meet him is to take an immediate liking to him, to hear him sing is to love his voice. The only things he's got going for him are his incredible voice, his song writing skills, his boyish good looks, his fabulous attitude, and a career that has only just begun to give him the recognition he deserves. Not bad for a lad who's still in his early twenties.
Bryan told me he got an early start on his musical training. "I grew up in Oklahoma City, and my parents were both musicians, and I was just kind of 'in it', since I was little. My daddy taught me how to play the drums when I was five, and I took it from there." Each of his parents had their own band. His father was a country singer, his mother sang rock,rhythm and blues, and Bryan had a wild mixture of music styles embedded in his brain from the get go. Playing drums in each parent's band, he learned to play across the musical spectrum, and was able to absorb the best of both worlds into his own musical cyber space.
At the tender age of fourteen, Bryan remembers the irony of substituting for the drummer in his mother's band, when she was playing at Cajun's Wharf, in Oklahoma City, and playing a forty-five minute set with her, and then being asked to sit in the lobby of the club between shows, because he wasn't old enough to sit inside with the adults. Though his parents split up when he was young, they both continued to be a positive influence, and each spent a great deal of time nurturing and encouraging his talents.
When he formed his first three-piece band, Bryan was content to play drums, and stay in the background. His mom had arranged for them to tape a few songs one afternoon, at the club where she was performing. During the soundcheck, Bryan started singing "Stand By Me" into the drum mics. When his mother heard him, she came on stage and put a vocal mic in front of him and told him, "if you don't sing now, you're never going to". By the time the song was over, his mother was crying. "It was one of the most memorable moments of my life", he said. That was the first step that led him to becoming one of the most promising new voices in country music today. He started playing guitar and writing songs while still in high school. After graduation, his move to Nashville just seemed inevitable.
The pivotal relationship to White's Music City quest, was his introduction by a family friend, to legendary session player, also an Oklahoma boy, Billy Joe Walker Jr. Billy Joe took an immediate interest in him, and worked with him for a two year period, finding songs, criticizing his writing, and getting him into the loop as a demo singer in Nashville. Walker joined forces with Kyle Lehning, whose successes as a producer include Dan Seals and Randy Travis. Working on his debut album for over a year, the combined talents of Walker, Lehning and Bryan White scored a big winner with his first, self-named CD. Lehning had this to say about their first meeting. "He came in to my office with his guitar and started singing. He had an obvious natural talent - I consider it something Bryan was born with. He has a voice and sense of phrase that is truly remarkable, and goes way beyond his age. I was blown away." And so was the rest of the country with hits like the light hearted "Eugene You Genius", the poignant ballad that really shows off the amazing scope of his voice, "Someone Else's Star",and his self-penned, third chart single from the album, "Rebecca Lynn", which is based on a true story.
While he was putting his album together, his publisher arranged for him to collaborate with several well known writers in Nashville. One of the songs he was working on with Mark Miller, of Sawyer Brown, was supposed to be for his album. When it was finished, they all decided it was more appropriate for Sawyer Brown than Bryan White, and bingo! Their song, became the hit single, "I Don't Believe In Goodbye", for Sawyer Brown. Like Jerry Reed says, "When You're Hot, You're Hot".
Of the songs he contributed to the album, "You Know How I Feel", about the void in the soul, left behind in the wake of a love that's moved on, is the most personal, and touches his life the most deeply. It sprang from his own experience, and shows that both as a writer and a singer, he's wise beyond his years.
Meeting his singing idol Steve Wariner, and releasing this album are the first two things that came to mind when asked about his biggest thrills in the music business so far. His debut CD has been on the charts for almost six months, and has established him as a voice that must be heard. It was tough going for his records in the beginning, because there is just so much product out there, so much competition from the established artists. But because his talent runs deep, and the songs are timeless, it was just a matter of time until room was made for his unique, distinctive sound on the radio. He's been in the studio working on his second album for the past several months; perfecting, cutting additional material, and making sure that his second album will be everything his first album is, and more. It's due in the spring, and already there's quite a buzz of anticipation in the music industry, because people in the know think they've discovered the birth of a major new star on the horizon. Bryan White is the real deal, and so far, every step he's taken, has been a giant step in the right direction.
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