Tom Joyner News: Little Known Black History Fact: Barry White

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Barry White

Today is the birthday of the late singer Barry White, a.k.a. “The Maestro.” The Galveston, Texas native is known for his hit songs “You’re the First, My Last, My Everything,” “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe” & “Never Never Gonna Give You Up.” White, (who was born Barry Eugene Carter) grew up around gangs and poverty in South Central L.A. He did time for theft as a kid. He heard the song “It’s Now or Never” by Elvis Presley while in jail and decided to change his course in life.

White didn’t start off as a recording artist. He was a behind-the-scenes music rep, signing artists to various music labels in the 1960’s. He signed a group named Love Unlimited, then produced and arranged their hit “Walking in the Rain (With the One I Love).” White would also marry a member of the group named Glodean James.

In 1973, White embarked upon his own solo career at the urging of businessman Larry Nunes. That year he recorded “I’ve Got So Much to Give” with the hit song “I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby.” The song hit #1 on the Billboard R&B charts as well as #3 on the Billboard Pop charts. White decided to build The Love Unlimited Orchestra, a 40-piece orchestral group that would serve as the background instrumental for his album, Love’s Theme.

In 1978, White teamed with CBS/Columbia Records to buld his own label, Unlimited Gold. Unfortunately, the label took a financial toll on White within10 years. He signed with A&M Records in 1987. It was with A&M that he developed the song “Sho’ You Right,” a phrase that would become his legacy among fans.

White’s career stagnated with his songs reaching the mid 20’s on the Billboard charts until he teamed with Quincy Jones in 1990. He sang a part on the song “Secret Garden” that reminded fans of his soulful and deep sultry sound.

The artist made several more albums and collaborated with Tina Turner and Chris Rock (Basketball Jones).

White had ventured into acting throughout his career. He did many voice overs, including Oldsmobile, Arbys Restaurants and with the Apple corporation for their first ibook. He lent his voice to several episodes of “The Simpsons.”

After suffering bouts of illness from diabetes and high blood pressure, Barry White died on July 4, 2003 from renal failure. His ashes were scattered off the California coast by his family.

Barry White made 106 gold albums, with 41 of them hitting platinum. He has been hailed as the pioneer of disco music. He was posthumously inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2004. Today, he will receive his posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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