Kenny White is a quadruple threat - a singer, songwriter, pianist and producer with a knack for summing-up the human condition in half a song verse or less. (Take the lyrics "So you might as well put it on the line once in awhile, Maybe leave something more than ashes in a pile," from his song "Five Girls." Need we say more?
White's latest affecting release is entitled Long List of Priors. Catch him on-tour supporting Stephen Stills and Judy Collins, as well as headlining his own shows across the U.S and Europe throughout 2017 and beyond.
NAME: Kenny White
HOMETOWN: I was born in New York City and raised in FortLee, New Jersey.
MUSICAL TRAINING:On the job.
FIRST GIG: A Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) dance in Fort Lee, NJ when I was 14. I was covering the Blues Project, Moby Grape, the Grateful Dead,Quicksilver Messenger Service, Jimi Hendrix and Blood, Sweat & Tears with two of the best guitarists to come out of New Jersey - John Zias and Van Manakas. The power was shut-off in the middle of the final song, “Wake Me, Shake Me,” just like it was in London’s Hyde Park for Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney a few years ago. On a side note, members of Moby Grape and BS&T came to see shows of mine this year the very same week. A humbling cycle.
MUSICAL INFLUENCES: Songwriters: Paul Simon, Randy Newman, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joe Jackson.Piano players: Terry Adams, Keith Jarrett, Nicky Hopkins, Herbie Hancock, Richard Tee.Vocalists: Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Van Morrison, George Jones.Athletes: Willie Mays, Larry Bird. I admired how effortlessly they could do what they did.Bands: The Rascals, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Jeff Beck, Temptations, the Beatles, the Allman Brothers, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Blind Faith, and the Grateful Dead, where, not having had any early exposure to jazz, I first discovered the concept of improvisation, effectively erasing the boundaries that I had known. I spent every third weekend at the Fillmore East. You can't get a better education than that.
WHAT I’M LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: Spottiswoode and His Enemies (upcoming album), Duke Ellington’s Such Sweet Thunder.
MY BIG BREAK: As a sideman: Jonathan Edwards, who hired me for his band and then encouraged me to also open the shows and “get my stuff out there!”As a studio musician/composer: Joey Levine, who found a spot for me in his jingle company (and Robin Batteau, who introduced me), where I enjoyed an immense learning experience for 18 years, while working with NYC’s toppermost players and making some money at it. As a recording artist: Judy Collins, who signed me to her label and had me open concerts for her around the world. and who released three of my five albums on that label.
LATEST PROJECT/GIGS: Touring in support of my latest record, Long List of Priors. I spent a month in Europe doing shows and promotion and have been basically on the road for the bulk of 2017. I also co-produced a fourth record for Peter Wolf. I couldn't be prouder of those collaborations. Peter was also gracious enough to perform on my new album, as was David Crosby, as were some of the finest musicians on the planet...including Duke Levine, Shawn Pelton, Marty Ballou, Larry Campbell, Catherine Russell, John “Scrapper” Sneider... but wait, there's more!
FAVORITE KEYBOARDS/GEAR AND WHY:A Steinway 9-foot concert grand! When there is no access to one, I play Yamaha keyboards. I prefer the “P” series because it has the most responsive action for my playing. I don’t need many bells and whistles from a keyboard – It’s the physical feel and response that I’m most concerned with. When I toured with Tom Jones three years ago, I needed to play more electric piano and organ, and for that, the Nord Electro 5D-61 beat them all.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU?I will be opening the Stephen Stills/Judy Collins tour for the next few weeks, and following that with a California tour of my own.
ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION: Don’t adhere to the messages from The Voice or America’s Got Talent. It is NOT about the result, it is about the process! If you are in this for any result that doesn’t involve improving your craft, you are in the wrong field. I might suggest hedge funds as an alternative.
Find-out more at kennywhite.net