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Drake White: Country’s Soulful Singer

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Drake White has appeared on the country charts before.  His first singles released brought attention to the soulful bluesy-ness of the Alabama native’s voice.  Now, with his latest single, “Livin’ The Dream” from his first, soon to be released, full-length album, White has the opportunity to give his fans what they have been waiting for and what the singer needs.

“This record is going be a good organic, country soul, foot stomping record. It’s going to have a lot of similarities to our live shows,” White said.

“I have been doing this around 8 years at this level, full-time being out there playing, and me and my band have been through the ditches and through the good times and bad times together,” White confides about his band The Big Fire.   “So to get an album out, that’s why we do it. To really get that music out where fans can grab on to it.”

“The Simple Life” was released as his first single, and then after he signed with Big Machine Records Dot Label in 2014 he released an EP, and “It Feels Good,” came from that recording.  But, White’s fans have been staying in touch with the singer and getting to know his music through the web and social media.

“My career has been surviving off technology and social networking and YouTube,” White confessed. “We’re really good about taping and getting those videos out there and it has kind of kept us afloat until we can get an album out, he added, ”But man, we’re working on it, and “Livin’ The Dream” is doing real well, and what we hope happens is that “Livin’ The Dream” does what we think it’s gonna’ do, which is do really well on radio and be a top ten for us, a number one even, and we sell the record off that success.”

If the press he has received over the past few months is any indication of his pending success, he should do fine. Rolling Stone Country, The Huffington Post and Billboard have all called him a “top country artist to watch in 2016,” and Taste of Country called him “country’s next Chris Stapleton.”

The comparison to Stapleton isn’t lost on White. “I truly believe he’s the best voice in country music, and he’s probably, to me, the best voice in country music of all time,” stated White by phone from Nashville. “I’m a songwriter and a singer, and watching the paths that he chooses to take vocally on a song…the way he attacks a lyric, it’s hard to do,” he added.

White’s style is similar in that he just let’s go vocally and has such a soulful inflection on a song. “At the end of the day, I just close my eyes and let it rip, he admitted.”

And, as Stapleton had the opportunity to widen his audience when he played on the CMA’s last year, it looks like White will be getting a chance to broaden his audience when he performs on the “Today” Show on Monday, April 18th. The telecast will happen just five days before his show here, Saturday, April 23rd, at Thirsty Cowboy in Medina, Ohio.

I asked him what people could prepare for in a Drake White & The Big Fire show. “None of our live shows are the same, White said. “I’m gonna be jumping off the ceiling and it’s gonna be similar to a revival.  It’s like Eric Church meets Joe Cocker meets Bob Marley and Zac Brown.  We’re a band and these guys light it up.  It’s gonna smell good in the place and it’s gonna feel good in the place. It’s going to be rowdy and it’s going to be dynamic.”

As if his stage shows and the gospel edginess of his vocals were not enough to separate him from every other male country singer, his hat does.

“A hat finds you, I don’t think you can find a hat. It’s a spiritual thing…not to be too heady about it. No pun intended, “ White states. “It’s a confidence and a staple. I put it on; it was an accident really. I was wearing baseball caps and everything else.  But, for me, I wanted to honor my late Grandfather.  I wanted to dress up a little and make it interesting.”  White paused for a second and added, “I’m from a small town in Alabama and when I started wearing those hats people were like ‘why are you wearing those goofy hats.’ I would simply respond …”cause they make me feel good, and I think I look good in ‘em.”

But, White’s appeal really will have more to do with the singer’s voice. Being influenced by gospel, rock, blues, bluegrass and Ray Charles growing up, White had a great foundation for his vocal offerings. “Being that close to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, really influenced me, as well, “he explained.” “Muscle Shoals has that deep history of Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin and the Allman Brothers.”  He adds, “It’s in the water of North Alabama.”

Whatever it is, Drake White, and his band The Big Fire, are truly a unique blend of musical styles and influences. His heartfelt interpretation of a song and a lyric is a fun little ride through gospel, blue’s, soul and country.  His fans, called “Firestarters,” know what it is to enjoy one of White’s performances or his hundreds of YouTube videos.  Now, with his first full-length album he will have a chance to get that message to a larger audience, and give Drake White & The Big Fire a chance to fulfill their musical calling.

Drake White & The Big Fire will be performing on Saturday, April 23 at Thirsty Cowboy in Medina, Ohio.  Ticket are $10 (plus fees) and are available at www.ThirstyCowboy.com

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