Today’s Guest: Lari White, country singer
(NOTE — I received the sad news tonight that country singer Lari White died today — January 23, 2018 — of a rare form of advanced peritoneal cancer. I had the good fortune to meet Lari way back in July 1984, when I was a correspondent in the Clearwater bureau of the St. Petersburg Times and she was a University of Miami sophomore dreaming of a career in music. That summer, while she was home in nearby Dunedin, Florida, on summer vacation, word reached our newsroom that Lari was featured singing background vocals on a new single, “Boys Do Fall in Love,” from Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees. Lari came into the paper and I interviewed her in the breakroom. She was charming, beautiful and a delight to meet. This story — which I believe was her first press as a professional singer — was originally published on July 8 1984. I interviewed Lari again in May 1994 for our mutual friend Mike Culotta’s country magazine, Two-Step; you can read that story here. Lari made some impressive friends during her career, including Rodney Crowell and even “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote on Twitter that he “taught alongside (her) in the ASCAP Songwriters’ program one summer.” Travis Tritt recorded one of her songs and she produced an album for Toby Keith. She also had a memorable role in the Tom Hanks film Cast Away. She is survived by her husband, Chuck Cannon, and their three children. Rest in peace, Lari. — Bob Andelman)
Dunedin High grad is backup singer on Robin Gibb single
By Bob Andelman
DUNEDIN – Now playing on area pop music radio stations is the voice of a Dunedin High School graduate in the harmony and chorus of a’ song called “Boys Do Fall In Love.”
Lari White, 19, now a sophomore at the University of Miami, spent a day last April in a Miami studio singing the background parts of the new single by Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees.
The catchy tune was released on Atlantic Records two weeks ago and is already near Billboard magazine’s Top 40.
A former alto in the mixed and girls’ choruses at Dunedin High, Miss White also plays the piano and guitar. She is the daughter of Larry and Yvonne White of Dunedin.
Although her voice is hard to pick out in the harmony and echo of two other women – “No one’s going to know it’s me unless I tell them” – Miss White will be credited on the forthcoming Gibb album as a performer on the song.
LARI WHITE excerpt: “I first was very nervous when I first went in. Both Robin Gibb and his brother Maurice were great. Maurice had a great sense of humor. You were trying to sing and he’d be cracking you up.”
Her career began to rise last fall when she auditioned for the halftime show of the 1984 Orange Bowl.
Recording was done at Miami’s Criteria Studios, where she met engineer Dennis Hetzendorfer – through “a friend of a friend of a friend,” she said.
“He asked if he could call me if he needed backup singers,” she recalled. “I said, ‘Yeah, sure.’ ”
Miss White, who is majoring in jazz voice and music engineering, was soon back in the studio. She sang on Monte Rock’s comeback rap record “I Like Plastic” and did work with country gospel artist Joel Martin. Then the call came to sing with Gibb.
“I first was very nervous when I first went in,” she admitted. “Both Robin and his brother Maurice were great. Maurice had a great sense of humor. You were trying to sing and he’d be cracking you up.”
But “they were so professional,” she continued. “Friendly, but they were there to get something accomplished. Their status didn’t matter. They were musicians doing a job.”
Miss White would have liked to talk to Gibb about how he got started in and felt about the music business, she said, “but we didn’t have time for small talk, really.”
Of her pay for the session, the young singer would only say that she was well compensated but will receive no residuals if the song is successful.
“We will get billing on the album. For me, that’s more important than the pay. Starting out, any show of recognition will help,” she said.
This summer, Miss White is singing with a ’50s band called Flashback and waitressing at Capogna’s Dugout in Dunedin. “It’s almost like a performance every night,” she said of the job. “You have to be up and cheery all the time. It’s a challenge.”