The Whites spend a lifetime making music – October 2000
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The Whites spend a lifetime making music  Print

By George Hauenstein, October 2000

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Among the diverse material on the album are two gospel songs, "Key To The Kingdom" and "Jesus Is The Missing Piece." Gospel has long been part of the group's repertoire.

Buck White contributed one of his own instrumental's, "Old Man Baker," a tribute to legendary fiddler, Kenny Baker.

Sharon White says her dad had to be persuaded to include this one. "We all had to talk daddy into doing it. He said that it didn't fit. (But) Jerry Douglas liked the song. He said, 'I think you ought to do one of your songs, Buck.' Jerry said, 'I just really like this song.'"

Three of the tunes came from a relatively unknown Oklahoma writer/musician, Billy Joe Foster. He is a former Bill Monroe sideman who also spent time in Skaggs' band.

When asked why they chose the three Foster songs, "Texas To A T," "Apron Strings" and Before The Prairie Met The Plow," Sharon White says, "He sent us a tape early on with a lot of great possibilities on there. It wasn't a plan. Those were the ones we liked and all agreed on."

"'Texas To A T' was a natural. We said, 'Daddy, that's your kind of song.' It just fit his kind of playing. 'Apron Strings' is a beautiful, well-written song about a mother-daughter relationship. It touched us. We tried to sing songs that meant something to us."

The Whites also chose to record the classic "Fair And Tender Ladies." Sharon says, "It has that old world feel to it." She adds that she and her sister both wanted to sing a song with Emmylou Harris, with whom they had collaborated on many occasions over the years. Harris first heard The Whites in 1975, and they provided backing vocals on her "Blue Kentucky Girl" four years later.

"When we started talking about his album, Cheryl and I said we'd like to have her sing something with us. We saw her at Opry said, 'we'd like to have you sing with us. ' She said, 'sure, just call me.' (It was) a wonderful experience. She was icing on the cake for Cheryl and I to sing again with her."

In addition to the song selection, the look of the album is also in keeping with the project's title. The album cover and booklet include photos and sentimental items.

"We were trying to say something with the art too. Stan Strickland, (a partner at Skaggs Family Records) wanted for people to understand even by looking at it that it would say something (about us and about our music). We've never worked so hard on art."

The Whites are regulars on The Grand Ole Opry, where they've been members since 1984. Despite the new record, Sharon White doesn't see a heavy road schedule to promote the project, something that would be mandatory for many artists.

"We haven't toured a lot in the last few years. We're never gonna tour like we used to. (But) we're willing to work more dates to promote the record. We're doing the Opry on regular basis and some TV shows around town."

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