Fans and members of the country music industry are still mourning the death of singer-songwriter and producer Lari White, who lost her battle with cancer on Jan. 23 at the age of 52. Her passing not only reminded us all that life is so very short, but also that we should appreciate the artists who make music for us while they are here.
Now, a never-before released interview with Lari from 2015 demonstrates that one of the many battles she faced in her career was gender discrimination.
In the interview, which was conducted by Joseph Fenity and just published by Rolling Stone, the singer best known for hit songs such as “Now I Know” and “That’s How You Know (When You’re in Love),” opened up about her musical journey and the role being a woman played in it.
“When I first started doing my little radio tour going around to visit [radio station] program directors with RCA — before my first record ever came out — you wouldn’t believe how many program directors looked me in the eye and said, ‘You know I’d love to hear your music, but we’ve already got a female act that we’re playing,’ or ‘We’re already playing two female acts’ or ‘We’ve already got two female artists on the Top 20,’” Lari said. “So, you know, too bad!” There were a lot of great women making a lot of great music out of Nashville in the country genre at that time. We all kind of carried each other along.”
And when Lari felt confident enough to spread her musical wings, she found out that it wouldn’t be easy to convince everyone about the new sounds she wanted to pursue. “I’d had a gold record, I’d had hits on the radio and I was already kind of chafing, wanting to expand and bring some of the jazz influences and some of the other genres and styles of music that I had loved and had been a part of my musical development,” recalled Lari. “It didn’t take very long for me to feel like the country radio box was a little too small.”
While this interview helps bring Lari’s voice back after her death, perhaps the best part of it is when she speaks about her beloved family members, who are obviously in deep mourning at the moment.
“With our kids, [husband] Chuck [Cannon] and I have always felt incredibly fortunate to have actually put bread on the table doing something that we love so deeply,” she said of their chosen profession. (Chuck is also a hit songwriter.) “I imagine a utopia where every human being can do that — can put bread on the table doing what they are most passionate about. We have been incredibly fortunate to live that life. It’s not always easy — frequently it is terrifying and brutally difficult — but because it’s our passion it sees us through.”
She concluded, “If I could hope for anything at all for my children, it would be that they could have the opportunity to find that life; to be able to sustain themselves and their families doing some kind of work that they are passionately in love with.”