Country Chatter

Lari White Dies at 52 After Battle with Cancer

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Country singer, songwriter, producer and actress Lari White, best known for a string of hits in the ’90s, has died after a battle with advanced peritoneal cancer. She passed away on Tuesday, January 23, at the age of 52.

White graduated from the University of Florida and worked in studios in Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago before making the move to Nashville in 1988. She gained notoriety as a singer after winning a TV competition called You Can Be a Star.

In the early 1990s, she landed a job as a backup singer for Rodney Crowell. After RCA signed White to a record deal, she, Crowell and Steuart Smith co-produced her 1993 debut album, “Lead Me Not.” The album’s most successful single, “What a Woman Wants,” peaked at No. 44 on the country charts. But, it was her 1994 sophomore album, Wishes, that saw White’s biggest success in Country Music. She scored three Top 10 hits from that album with “That’s My Baby,” “Now I Know,” and “That’s How You Know (When You’re in Love).”

Her follow-up album, Don’t Fence Me In, didn’t fair as well, and after a brief time with Lyric Street Records White launched her own label, Skinny White Girl. She began releasing her own work beginning with Green Eyed Soul in 2004. She recorded from time to time over the next decade, releasing her most recent project, Old Friends, New Loves, in 2017. She took part in three Grammy Award-winning projects over the course of her career, which covered country, bluegrass and gospel; two volumes of Amazing Grace: A Salute to Country Gospel and the soundtrack for the film The Apostle took home honors for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album.

White also pursued an a career in acting and appeared in the films Castaway in 2000 and Country Strong in 2010. She was an original cast member of the Broadway musical Ring of Fire in 2006 and debuted a cabaret production in 2007 called My First Affair.

Her songs were recorded by Travis Tritt, Pat Green, Lonestar and many others. She also worked as a producer for other artists including Billy Dean and Toby Keith. White made history as the first female producer to produce an album by a male country superstar when she co-produced Keith’s White Trash With Money album in 2006.

White revealed her cancer diagnosis in November of 2017, and on Jan. 19 her mother announced she had entered hospice care.

Yvonne White praised her daughter as “wise and funny, intelligent and super-talented…so loving, kind and compassionate…with a heart as big as all of Heaven” in a post to Caring Bridge.

“I have never known a person who did not love her and respect her, as evidenced by the great outpouring of love and concern of so many people. Every role she has played in life has been superb, and most of all, her role as mother,” she wrote. “We are blessed to be her family. Chuck and their three children are blessed to have her as wife and mother. Thank you, God, for Lari!”

Lari White married songwriter Chuck Cannon in 1994, and together they had three children; daughters M’Kenzy and Kyra Ciel and a son named Jaxon.

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