Welcome to a place that belongs smack dab in the middle of Nashville and Laurel Canyon. The sun shines, the pedal steel wails, and harmonies flutter like hearts at the recollection of first love. Arizona-born and Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Brooke White extends a warm invite to this place on her forthcoming 2019 full-length album, Calico—short for “California Country.”
The quirky raspy-voiced blonde, moved west from her native desert home in 2003 in hopes of becoming a singer-songwriter. She spent a handful of years chasing the dream, writing songs, cutting hair in her bathroom and nannying twins. She finally landed her big break when she was granted a golden ticket on American Idol's seventh season to perform on the nation’s biggest stage, where millions of viewers formed an emotional bond and welcomed her barefoot-at-the-piano style into their homes on a weekly basis.
Most people attribute Brooke's sound to the golden era of singer-songwriters like Carole King and Joni Mitchell. While the music of 70s made its mark on her, it’s the undeniable influence of country legends like George Strait, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks and The Judds who she grew up listening to in Arizona that come soaring through her vocal cords. For years she's tried holding back that innate twang.
“It wasn't uncommon after a vocal take for the producer to suggest I try another take that was ‘a little less country’,” White recalls of previous projects. In the back of her mind she'd always told herself she'd "get to Nashville... where all the country gold is made".
However, after years of trying to get there and ultimately crossing paths with producers and co-writers Chris Qualls and Eric Straube, the songstress realized she didn’t necessarily need to book a plane ticket to Nashville to make a country record.
“Country is a feeling,” she goes on, “it’s about experiences. The songs are stories. It’s heart-driven music... and I found that feeling writing with Chris and Eric right here, close to home."
In Echo Park to be exact. Brooke made regular trips from her home in the suburbs to track at a hideaway studio belonging to the producers in East L.A. “Chris and Eric pushed me into some places I’d never gone before,” she continues. “At first we didn't know where it was going, with their prominent pop background and my throwback singer-songwriter thing, it was all new and experimental. We wrote a couple good songs, but then we wrote ‘Honey’.” The second track on the album touts one of White’s catchiest choruses. “That’s when I knew I was ready to make this album and I needed to make it with these guys. I was making a California country record and what better place to do it than in California?”
Cue “Calico”, a collection of twelve lush and lively anthems, the record earmarks the journey of the songstress as it turns the page on her most passionate, powerful, and personal chapter to date.
For her first time, every song would be guitar-based instead of piano. “This was a departure for me, but it felt right and natural... especially to sing to.” The warm seasoned tones of the lead guitar are artfully played by Brooke's long-time guitarist, Kevin Haaland. Producer, Chris Qualls enlisted Rich Hinman to play pedal steel. Brooke adds, "for me, it's the juxtaposition of those authentic sounds paired with the modern production that Chris and Eric are so good at, that makes the album feel unexpected yet classic."
The stomping groove and sunny storytelling of the first single and title track, “Calico,” speak to that spirit. Punctuated by a big chant, banjo solo and handclaps, she recounts her journey before announcing, “This is the wild, wild west.”
“It’s about how we make plans, and those plans change, but it works out—sometimes even for the better,” she goes on. “That’s happened so many times in my life: from ending up on American Idol to having to wait for babies to making the record how and where I did. L.A. is the place where dreamers, creators, and artists come, because anything can happen here. That’s why I’m here. ‘Calico’ is about letting go of what you thought it would be and embracing what it is and where you are and who you are... making the most of it and loving it.”
In the end, Calico is a place you won’t want to leave anytime soon...
Touting the fan favorite “Hold Up My Heart,” which Brooke performed live on the American Idol stage, High Hopes & Heartbreak was released in 2009. The album was produced by Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Zac Brown Band). She later went on to comprise the duo Jack & White alongside Jack Matranga, releasing Gemini , Winter , Undercover , and Lost .
On the heels of releasing Brooke White Christmas in 2012, she delivered a show-stopping performance on NBC’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting. In 2014, Brooke recorded Never Grow Up: Lullabies and Happy Songs, which featured collaborations of original lullabies and benefited Operation Underground Railroad. The album was produced by Daniel Tashian (Kacey Musgraves) and featured collaborations with David Archuleta, Deana Carter, Leigh Nash, Carly Smithson and more.
Off the stage, Brooke has hosted “Live From The Red Carpet” for TV guide, judged the Miss America pageant, and starred as lead rolls in two TV movies: Change of Plans, that aired on FOX, and Banner 4th of July, for the Hallmark Channel. She co-founded The Girls With Glasses, a stylish and quirky YouTube show and lifestyle blog, alongside model and actress Summer Bellessa (Deal or No Deal).
If you follow her on Instagram, you'll catch glimpses of her free-spirited nature raising two little birds, London, 6, and Sonny, 2. Juggling both motherhood and music is the circus she calls "living the dream.”