John White Night People

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John White Night People Interview As his official Geffen Records' bio states, "John White sings with the authority and control of some of R&B's finest vocalists ..." and after listening to the gentleman's debut LP, "Night People", it would be tough to disagree.

  As his official Geffen Records' bio states, "John White sings with the authority and control of some of R&B's finest vocalists ..." and after listening to the gentleman's debut LP, "Night People", it would be tough to disagree.

The album, produced by Rahni Song (whose credits include instrumentalist Najee's splendid debut album, as well as music on Ray Goodman & Brown and Melba Moore), is the object of some considerable critical acclaim in the U.K., reason enough to catch up with young Mr. White upon his return from a whirlwind promotional trip across the States.

John, a native of Harrisburgh, Pennsylvania, explains how his entry onto the recording scene came about. "My background is in the church and that's where Rahni Song first heard me during a visit to my hometown. That was back in 1985 and he invited me to come to New York to do some background sessions on tracks he was producing on Melba, Najee and Ray, Goodman & Brown."

John says that he was naturally excited about the opportunity to do that and when Song asked him to sing on a demo for Freddie Jackson, John gladly obliged.

"The song was "My Forbidden Love" and when the folks at Hush Productions (who manage Melba, Freddie and a host of other notables) heard it, they wanted to know who I was. Now, I had expected that I'd be singing backgrounds for quite a while before I got the chance to have my own record deal, but Hush Productions were sufficiently impressed that they offered me a contract straight away. Within a week or so, the deal with Geffen Records happend and I began working on my first album!"

John admits that he was, to say the least, a little taken aback by the speed at which events took place earlier this year.

"Before I knew it, I was in the studio working on the LP with Rahni. I must say that it was hard work but at the same time, a lot of fun. I definitely had a good time doing the album and I learned a lot.

Now I'm ready to do the next one!" For "Night People", John co-wrote two songs and penned one ("Mood for Love") by himself and he's already busy working on songs "for my next album as well as for other artists."

ALTHOUGH he says he knew he always wanted a career in music, there's every chance that John could have ended up strictly in the gospel field. "Gospel music and the church are very strong in my family and as a group, they'd tour with people like The Winans, the Reverend James Cleveland and Shirley Caesar. I got the chance to go out there too when I was in my teens so I saw that being on the road can be a lot of fun."

John's exposure to R&B was a little more limited: he laughs as he recalls that his parents didn't exactly encourage him to listen to secular music.

"I'd have to sneak into my room to hear the radio and what I'd do is hold just one long note on the piano whilst I listened to the local radio. But my sisters would squeal on me and go tell my parents that I was in there tuned in to the radio!"

When he did get to sneak and listen, John says that Aretha Franklin and Peabo Bryson were amongst his favourite artists and, at some point, his parents realised that John's musical talents would eventually expand to include more mainstream styles.

"The fact is, I was always singing in my nighbourhood. It got to the point where people would tell me to shut up!" John laughs. "The funny thing was that I'd sing in the bathroom and before you knew it, there would be a crowd outside the bathroom window listening!"

Now that John's begun his professional career in earnest, he says he's excited about what the future holds. "I know that it's tough for a new artist like myself but I feel that if my album gets the right kind of attention, people will like it."

At just 22 years of age, John admits that he's just getting used to dealing with being a public person: "I'm very shy although I am becoming less so now."

HIS FUTURE plans include a possible tour with Melba Moore and Najee next year "and since I love performing, I can't wait for that!" He says his musical ambitions include working with the likes of Stevie Wonder and Anita Baker "and I'd love to do a duet with Dolly Parton. I know it would be unusual but I really feel that given the right music, she'd be really great!"

On a personal level, John says that he wants to "get married and have two kids" ? and, at some point, "I'd like to have my own production company like Hush."

Meanwhile, Mr. White is content to keep the word going about his first album. "I'm very satisfied with it and I hope the public feels the same way. I'm looking forward to gold or even platinum ? I feel that strongly about it."

Hey, nothing like a confident guy, and if you've heard John's album, you'll agree that such confidence is well placed.(B&S)

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