My Story Part 1
My Story Part 1
If Fred White were to do nothing more in music for the rest of his life, he has already amassed the kind of resume from which dreams are made. Fred has written songs for singing royalty such as Patti LaBelle, Howard Hewett and Oleta Adams. He’s lent his voice to the recordings of such diverse greats as Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross and Kirk Whalum. His voice has graced film soundtracks such as Shrek and Congo. And he has toured the world with Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, LeAnn Rimes and Babyface.
Now, in 2007, Fred White is soaring on eagle wings having penned and co-produced the title track/first single of international superstar Diana Ross’ latest project, I Love You. It is the only original song on an album of otherwise classic love ballads. Ross – a.k.a. “The Boss” - paid Fred the ultimate compliment when she stated, "From the first time I heard this song I was touched… it moved me immediately. I just knew it was the right song for me." Fred’s mastery is further justified in a review from the All Music Guide stating that of all the CD’s songs, Fred’s “I Love You (That’s All That Really Matters)” “made the most of Ross’ vocal capabilities and range.”
This uncanny synergy of song and artist occurred because Diana Ross is one of Fred’s favorite artists. “I’ve always loved her tone,” he shares, “the passion, heart and emotion that comes through in anything she sings. When I’m writing, melodies often come to me as I play chords. As I was singing this particular melody, I thought, ‘Boy does this sound like Ms. Ross…’ After listening to her over the years - as a fan as well as night after night touring with her since 2000 – the creation of this song was definitely a spiritual thing. The flow of the melody and the dictation of the lyric was a marriage…a love song sent from Heaven. The musicians on the demo session commented, ‘That is a great song. Who do you have in mind to sing it?’ Curious, I asked them who they could hear singing it and they named several artists. When I told them it was for Diana Ross, they said, ‘That’s it!’ I'll never forget the moment when Mary Lotta Jacobs (one of Ross' closest creative associates) called me to her home to play me a rough mix of Ms. Ross singing my song. I felt as if I'd come full circle - one of the proudest days of my life."
Fred's special touch with pop songwriting was first apparent when producer Sami McKinney invited him to collaborate with him (along with Denise Rich) on “I’m In Love” for Patti LaBelle's 1994 CD, Gems. Not long after, while working with Oleta Adams, the singer overheard Fred in a rehearsal booth working on a song that caught her ear. A year later she called and asked if he'd done anything with it. When Fred told her, "I've been holding it for you," Adams recorded it as the opening number of her first gospel CD, Come Walk with Me (1997). That song, "Holy is the Lamb," was nominated for a Grammy®. A few years later, Fred’s song “Somebody’s Watching Over Me” on Howard Hewett’s 2001 gospel CD, The Journey, was the most played song from the project at radio…though it was not officially released as a single.
My Story Part 2
My Story Part 2
Fred is only just beginning to reveal the breadth of his exceptional musical gifts. His mission is to bring uplifting, loving and reassuring messages to the world through his compositions, his productions and his amazing voice. After years of prayer, hard work and lessons learned from veterans such as Syreeta Wright, Fred White is achieving those dreams in a most magical way.
Who is this multi-faceted tunesmith capable of tailoring his skills for such timeless superstars?
Fred White was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with music all around him. Though his father Johnny would playfully serenade his wife by singing Sam Cooke's "You Send Me" around the house, Fred’s mother Delores was a serious pianist and lead singer in their Baptist church choir. She was his first inspiration. The `70s singing group The Sylvers are also Fred’s cousins, so music clearly runs in his family. Fred started his musical journey playing piano by ear. But when the Edwin Hawkins Singers' smash hit "Oh Happy Day" came out, it sparked him to be more serious about songwriting and singing. By the time he was attending Francis Parkman Junior High School, Fred was a member of both the church and school choirs. He later joined the Wisconsin Community Choir for whom he wrote one of his very first songs, "Hallelujah, Amen," later recorded by James Chambers and the Ecclesiastes Community Choir of Chicago.
The anointed level of Fred’s musical calling began to become apparent during church performances. When most singers took leads, the congregation would sing along or shout. But when Fred sang, a hush fell upon the building followed by a roar of applause at the end. “At first I felt strange about that,” Fred confesses. “But a woman told me, 'When others lead, we’re singing along to songs we’ve been singing the same way for years, which is fine. But when you sing, you always come with something original either in the arrangement or the song itself. We’re quiet because we’re really listening to what you have to say.'"
Fred continues, “Music was such a part of me - in my blood, my bones and the air I breathed – there was nothing else I wanted to do.” Describing his early style, Fred adds, "All of my songs had messages and were very melodic. You were going to get something out of it. I sang about the love of God and Jesus, as well as sentiments like ‘I love you,’ ‘I miss you’ and ‘I care about you’...songs of reassurance.” This was clearly in line with the artists who held the greatest influence over Fred, such as Motown’s Supremes and Temptations, and icons Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and Donny Hathaway. In his heart, Fred knew what he needed to do. “I’ve often heard people say, 'I wish I had done this or that.' I told myself when I got older I was never going to say that. 'Everything I want to do I'm going to at least try.’”
My Story Part 3
My Story Part 3
The summer of `82 marked Fred's turning point. "A friend was performing with his choir at The Taste of Chicago, so I went to hang with him. Patrick Henderson was at this show playing piano for the Hawkins Family. He was the leader of the West Angeles Choir but I also knew his name because he and Michael McDonald co-wrote the Doobie Brothers' hit "Real Love. Back then I always read the credits on the back of album covers. Everyone I know now I was first introduced to by liner notes. When I met Patrick, he said he'd like to hear some of my songs. Milwaukee was only an hour away, so I went home Sunday, got my demo, drove back and gave it to him on Monday. He was impressed! He said if I ever got out to L.A. to call him. He could get me some work. That September I got laid off of my job and I thought, 'Now is my chance!'"
“So I flew out to California, stayed with a friend and called Patrick who, as promised, got me some demo work. The very first thing I recorded was 'Mr. T's Commandment' (Columbia - 1984). At that session I met Linda & Howard McCreary and Andrae’ Crouch. I also met Alfie Silas, who told me, “You’re good! Keep doing what you're doing. Things are going to snowball for you.' And that's just what happened. She spoke that into my life and it really encouraged me."
Fred was such a quick study that he quickly cracked the exclusive Los Angeles session singer clique, landing most of his jobs by positive word of mouth. Through gigging and networking with established session singing veterans such as Lynne Fiddmont, Brigitte Bryant, Brenda Lee Eager and Phil Perry (the latter at the church they both attend, Faithful Central Bible Church), Fred was referred for many more professional opportunities. One of the most popular is saxophonist Gerald Albright's now-classic remake of Luther Vandross' "So Amazing.”
Not every gig paid monetarily, but they often led to bigger and better things. "Scott Smith used to hire me for free demos which I'd do as a favor and to keep my chops up," Fred shares. "'One day I'm gonna call you for a real job,' he told me, and when he did, it was to sing as a member of the choir on Phil Collins' 'I Wish It Would Rain Down.' I wound up going on tour with Phil, which led to a tour with Toto. Then, a one-off gig to sing on Rod Stewart's Unplugged TV special led to six years of touring with the mod rocker.”
Fred was never just a background singer. The stars always found a place for his vocal and performing gifts to be featured - singing Philip Bailey's part on 'Easy Lover' on the road with Phil Collins…singing Lionel Richie's part on 'Endless Love' live with Ms. Ross…or singing ‘When I Need You’ as a duet with Rod Stewart on the national television special “Happy Birthday Elizabeth (Taylor): A Celebration of Life.” That said, he has never lost his love or aptitude for harmonizing and singing in choir situations. Most recently, Fred took part in both Ellen Degeneres’ rave-up gospel number on the 2007 Oscars as well as the Dreamgirls medley later in the evening. “All I ever wanted to do was make a living doing music,” Fred concludes.
A man of quiet yet unshakable faith, Fred White continues to diligently write incredible songs for artists both established and up-and-coming, and anticipates expanding his profile as an artist in his own right.
"Circle Of One", "The Window of Hope", "Get Here" and 'Oh Me Oh My (I'm A Fool For You Baby). I could go on and on talking about Oleta Adams. Another amazing voice, songwriter, pianist, producer and beautiful person. I knew of Oleta Adams and had her debut album. I first met her while on tour with Phil Collins. A few years later and I had worked on a few of her albums, during a break at a session for the movie Corrina Corrina, I went to a room where the piano was and closed the glass door and began to play. Not long after I was playing Oleta came to the door and asked about the song I was playing I told her it was a praise and worship song and she asked me to sing it. After doing so she said she would love to record it if she does a Gospel CD and asked me to send a demo of it to her.
A year later Oleta called me and asked if I'd done anything with the song. I told her I've been holding it for you. Adams recorded it as the opening number of her first gospel CD, Come Walk with Me (1997). That song, "Holy is the Lamb," was later nominated for a Grammy®. When I heard Oleta Adams singing Holy Is The Lamb I wept. I knew then, that though God had sent that song through me it was meant for her to sing. And that, she did!
p.s. You guys should hear Oleta Adams sing "Oh Me Oh My ( I'm A Fool For You Baby)"