Things to do: Bella White / Sierra Ferrell, White Oak Music Hall, October 22, 2021

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Bella Blanche She might only be 21, but she’s a music veteran in some ways. For one thing, she said, she started writing songs when she was only seven when she wrote her first original song. She was sent home with warnings from elementary school teachers about her penchant for singing in the classroom. And, she’s a next generation musician with a family history in roots music that she favors.

White’s familiarity and ease with music gave the young Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist a head start that many newcomers would envy him. The result of these advantages is Just like leaving, White’s standout debut album of 2020. She’ll perform songs from the record this week in Houston when it opens for another booming songbird Sierra Ferrell at White Oak Music Hall on Friday October 22.

“I feel like a lot of songwriters who are maybe in their thirties or forties now didn’t start writing until they were 20, so I guess it can be. -being because I started at such a young age that I kind of got ahead in a way. Plus, I grew up in a family that didn’t really protect me from the world, so I feel like I’ve seen a lot of things and struggled growing up which I think probably contributed to growing up quickly and having to be sort of an adult at a younger age ”, White told us over the phone before his cross country tour with Ferrell.

“I feel like it’s a combination of starting to write and realizing that it’s a way of dealing with feelings and emotions at such a young age, combined with a lot of feelings and emotions that needed to be be treated. It’s sort of channeled into this early maturation, I guess you could tell.


“Mature” is a good word to describe White as an artist. All nine tracks on the album are honest and at times delicate songs backed up by his skillful guitar work and a confident, captivating voice. White was born in Calgary, Alberta, but her songs seem to descend straight from the Blue Ridge Mountains. His father was a bluegrass musician and White learned music on his knee.

“I grew up in Canada but he grew up in Virginia playing bluegrass and old-time music. Throughout my childhood he played music and so did my mom, not as much, but they are both very musical. I think having music, whether it’s music recordings or he’s still playing music, I just needed it. It was so heartwarming for me. When I realized that I could do it too, I didn’t really see any other path for myself. I wasn’t very keen on doing anything other than playing music.

White said she was around 16 when she decided to fully embark on a career in music. She said it was probably gratifying for her parents to see her follow her dream. His father is a psychiatrist “so music, he always really wanted to do it, but he also had this other really major passion that he had to pursue, so I think it was exciting for him to see me take the other way. that it was taking a while.

What makes her proud of her own music career, we asked? Her name has been mentioned along with Gillian Welch and Brandi Carlile. She’s on tour for sold-out shows on this ongoing race. She is part of the Rounder Records label, one of the world’s leading providers of roots music. She was greeted by Rolling stone, with the magazine titled “Hand of Your Raising”, a remarkable track from the album, “sublime chagrin des Appalaches”.

Click to enlarge White's debut album, Just Like Leaving, was released in late 2020. - PHOTO BY SHEENA ZILINSKI, COURTESY OF MICHAEL J. MEDIA GROUP

White’s debut album, Just like leaving, released at the end of 2020.

Photo by Sheena Zilinski, courtesy of Michael J. Media Group

“Seeing my name in Rolling stone Maybe this was my first time signing up, like, oh my gosh I did something really cool. I was proud of it, “she said.” You know your career is taking off and you’re on this path and it’s really easy to forget that you’re on this amazing path and all these goals and dreams that you you’ve had is sort of coming true. I think it’s really easy to just forget that and get carried away with the path and not really look at what you’ve accomplished. It was definitely a while away. where I walked out on my own for a minute and was like, ‘Wow, that’s so cool!’ ”

“It’s like my late teens diary,” White said of Just like leaving. “Now it’s been a few years since I’ve written all the songs on it, but to me this album sounds a lot like my coming-of-age anthem. I keep growing a lot but I like people to know that this is just a picture of growth, in my opinion. I hope people can relate to it and remember their young adulthood and have a certain sense of connection with it. ”

As critics praise her work on the album, White thanks her bandmates for helping her realize her vision for the record, a true music veteran move.

“They are all wonderful. It’s kind of like a slightly rotating cast. On the album Julian Pinelli plays the violin and he’s a great violin player. I met him at IBMA, the International Bluegrass Music Association event that they do every year, and we had a late night jam session and I loved him playing and singing so much that I kept wanting to play and sing with him, “she said.” Same with Reed Stutz playing the mandolin. I met him at a festival called Fiddle Tunes and we stayed up all night at singing Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice songs one night, at that point I knew I wanted him in the band.


“On the road with me, it’s Patrick M’Gonigle, who produced the album, playing the violin. I’ve known him forever, he’s also from Canada, ”she continued,“ and playing bass is Alan Mackie and I’ve known him since I was 13 and he also plays on the album. They are both the most inspiring musicians for me and I feel so lucky to have them on the road.

If she is improved by her group mates, as she contends, there is no denying that some of Bella White’s most striking work is underway. Youtube in a series of songs she’s recorded solo, just her and her guitar in a bedroom performing covers of some of her favorite tracks. Her voice is breathtaking in these calm videos. Fans of distinct expressive voices will be in heaven wherever she and Ferrell share stages this fall. For White, her development as a singer was about literally finding her voice.

“I was still singing. I remember going to a friend’s house when I was a little kid and they were like, “Could you stop singing?” Or in class, in elementary school, my teachers would always put on report cards, “Bella has to stop singing when she writes her tests.” I just couldn’t help myself. It certainly wasn’t always good either, ”she said with a laugh.

“Because I grew up in a bluegrass type family, I always went to music festivals and picked and sang and loved singing harmony with people,” she continued. “I just think it was a test by fire. I wanted to sing with people so I kind of had to sing all the time to figure out what my voice sounded like. I really think there have been different eras of the sound of my voice and maybe over the last few years it has kind of settled into what feels most authentic.

It may be unfair to ask most 21-year-old artists where they would like to see their early efforts take them. But White’s maturity as a musician allows it. For example, would she ever want to see her own children go into the family music business?

“I think I would definitely like them to at least try and hopefully fall in love with it, but probably somewhere where we could just play old tunes or something,” he said. she declared. “Then, if they took a liking to it and wanted to do it, I would fully support that. Of course, I would like them to, but I don’t think I would ever want to push someone in a way that I find uncomfortable because it’s really hard.

“I feel like I was lucky in so many ways to find success at an early age, but I also experienced the less rewarding sides. You must definitely have thick skin. I would never want to impose this on anyone, but of course I would be delighted if it continued to be a part of my life in the future. ”

For now, she can’t wait to connect with people and make new fans everywhere, including Houston, a city she has never visited. She said her only time on the ground in Texas was a stopover at the DFW airport.

“I just want to keep being able to play music with people I love, play music I love and be able to make a living and be recognized for that,” she said of her future. . “I really want to make sure I like him all the time. I don’t want to be in a place where I lose the love for the industry. I don’t want to have to fight the music in any way. I guess where I hope to see myself is to continue to be recognized and pay my bills and everything, but most of all to keep making music that I really love and that feels really honest to me.

Bella White, 8 p.m. Friday, October 22 at White Oak Music Hall, 2915 N. Main. White plays as support on the Sierra Ferrell Long Time Coming Tour. The show is full, register on the waiting list on the venue’s website.


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