It’s sad to hear about Lari White dying of cancer, but there’s no lack of local appreciation for who she was.
I had only a handful of encounters working and conversing with her over nearly 30 years in Nashville, but I came away impressed that this woman carried a huge talent with an equally huge dose of grace in her life.
It’s obvious that she could sing, and write.
Her unexpected venture into the movies, playing Tom Hanks’ girlfriend in “Castaway,” was both beautiful and brief, another flash of the grace she carried.
My first experience with Lari convinced me that I’d probably never meet a more talented singer. That is, if singers are to be evaluated by musicianship, then no one could surpass Lari for depth of knowledge and intuitive wisdom.
To put it in more specific terms, she came to country music with a totally qualified knowledge of jazz. She was a graduate of University of Miami, and knew the “standards” well, and could sing her way around them like a jazz musician. She could negotiate the chord changes and lean into the swing groove like the best of them, Ella Fitzgerald, whoever.
But her chances of reaching an audience in the 1990’s were better with country music, so that’s where she landed. Her writing was always witty and concise. I remember “Lead Me Not Into Temptation - I can get there just fine by myself.”
Lair was the kind of person you wanted to succeed. She was so deserving, and professional, and generous with her ability and the people she was around.
I listened to a song of hers yesterday, to check in with what had been released along the way to represent her to the world. “Now I Know,” another classic country song, with a perfect vocal to go with it. A fresh personality, with talent to burn. The video had a commercial formula to it - it was part Lari’s talent, and part record company effort to create a “product” to sell. But I could hear so much in her voice - the deep wisdom of other styles, other eras, the emotion that came through jazz records, doo-wop songs, early pop of the sixties - Lari absorbed a huge amount of music into her one singular life, and condensed it into a beautiful artistic whole.
Last year, I had finally finished my first solo swing album, and I sent it to her, knowing she would appreciate it.
She wrote back, “So cool, Bryan….I love this.”
I’m glad I got to hear from her one more time before the chance was gone.
Lari - we’re glad you were here. You made this place better by being here.
We are grateful.
Blogging Bryan 27january18