Darnell White

Darnell White

Official Biography (courtesy of Darnell White)

Darnell White was born in Los Angeles, California into an extremely musical family. Darnell’s mother played piano for her church for over 40 years. His nephew, Chuckii Booker has played and performed with everyone from Janet Jackson, En Vogue, Barry White, Bette Midler, and is currently on tour with Lionel Richie as his keyboard player and musical director.

Darnell says of their tight influence on each other: “Chuckii is an amazing talent and an incredible music producer.  I used to take care of him as a child while his mother worked, so we were always playing music around the house.”

Darnell talks about discovering the flute: "Walking home from school one day, I saw a flute in the pawn shop.  I had never noticed one before, and certainly didn't know anything about the instrument.  I went home and begged my mother to purchase it for me.  At the young age of 14yrs old, I actually saw a future, possibly playing the flute.  After weeks of pleading and begging she eventually purchased it for me.  I remember my mother telling me she worked very hard for her money, and she wished I would at least make an effort to try and learn the instrument.  I promised her I would try and learn even though I could not play it at the time, I felt a connection to the instrument and rationalized that if I applied myself  and took my time and have patience, there might be a possibility I could learn to play."

Darnell began taking lessons from a friend who played saxophone and also doubled on flute.  "He was in a band and i would hangout and listen to his group." After trying to play the flute for a couple weeks he explained to Darnell he was playing the flute backwards. "I would have never known, if he hadn't told me." Darnell's mission was trying to produce a sound on the flute, which took weeks.  He also began taking private lessons and learning music theory and harmony on the piano to get a grasp of what he was playing.  I would practice sometimes 3 to 4 hours at a time."  Some days I would get so discouraged trying to get a sound out of the instrument,  I would go outside and play but in the back of my mind it was driving me crazy i couldn't produce a sound or a note.

Later Darnell enrolled in college and began studying composition and arranging. " I learned so much taking classes, and i was in class with a myriad of fellow musicians, guitarist, drummers, keyboard players, and we learned from each other."  

Darnell discusses playing music with Chuckii: " While in college, I'd visit my nephew while his mother worked.  I'd have my flute and Chuckii would be on the piano. I would show him different scales, and we would learn from each other. I had bought a little recorder, and we'd create sounds and actually record music. Chuckii was into funk with such artist as Prince, George Clinton, James Brown, and Bootsy Collins. I was into jazz artist such as Wes Montgomery, Herbie Mann, George Benson, Hubert Laws.  The objective was to absorb as many different types of music that was presented to us.  We were also learning from each other.  I would show him different scales and patterns on the flute, at least what i knew at the time, and he was teaching me chords and songs.  He was very proficient at playing, at his young age, and learning a song within a matter of minutes."

During the 80’s and 90’s, Darnell wrote and composed with Barry White. Two of Darnell’s songs, “Strange” and “My Fantasies," were on Barry’s album, The Love Unlimited Orchestra Presents Mr.Webster Lewis. He also wrote “Tell Me Who Do You Love," on Barry's Album, "Beware."

Darnell also co-wrote  "Your What's on My Mind" with Barry, and played the spiraling flute solo at the introduction of the song during Barry's sensual rap.

Darnell on recording with Barry White:  "My sister, who is a childhood friend of Glodean White was having dinner with her.  Glodean had mentioned to my sister Barry was working on a new Love Unlimited Orchestra album and was looking for new material.  My sister had mentioned to Glodean that I was working on music and recording and I might have music for him.  Barry called me and a meeting was set.  He asked me to come to his home so we could listen to my songs.  After he and I listened to my songs,  I did not hear from him. I  assumed he wasn't thrilled with the songs so I continued playing and studying.  About two weeks later, Darnell received a call from Barry.  "He asked me to come to the studio, he was recording two of my songs, "My Fantasies," and "Strange." I was surprised he suggested I play piano on both songs," Darnell says, "even though I do not consider myself a piano player, I sent Barry two demo songs with me playing piano on both."  I told him i was not a great piano player.  He told me he could get any piano player in the world to play my songs, but he liked the "feel" I played on my songs and he wanted to capture that same feeling." Darnell says, "I walked into the studio and there was the band, the great bassist Nathan East, drummer Ed Greene, and Webster Lewis, who was conducting the album and Barry.  I was intimidated, but we eventually completed the two songs and the album was entitled "The Love Unlimited Orchestra Presents Mr. Webster Lewis."

Darnell on Barry and Glodean: "I was incredibly appreciative what Barry and Glodean had done for me. The opportunity they gave me inspired me to continue playing, writing, and studying.  They could have easily overlooked me, but they both gave me an opportunity to prove myself and I took advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to record with him. "I will always be grateful to Barry and Glodean."

Chuckii, now a record producer, eventually convinced Darnell to record with him. “What my nephew wanted to do was re-record a song I wrote for Barry entitled, “My Fantasies.” Chuckii recruited Ben Mauro, who is the guitarist in Lionel Richie’s band and was also guitarist on Britney Spears Onyx Hotel Tour, to lay down a guitar solo on Darnell’s song. Ben is a fantastic guitar player, I was really honored to have him record the solo on my song. He played the solo just how I envisioned it to be played. He is a very talented and creative guitarist.” Darnell says.

Darnell on his upcoming CD:  The CD is called "This Love." I really enjoyed arranging and writing this song with Chuckii. I actually decided to sing on this song, which is actually a first for me."  

 I also wrote and recorded a song I dedicated to the late Barry White. It is called, "Song For Barry." This is one of my favorite songs on the CD, with a beautiful arrangement by Chuckii Booker.

Our concept was to incorporate different flavors of music, R&B, Jazz, Brazilian, and Funk.  I decided to use different songwriters, such as myself, Chuckii, and longtime friends and fellow musicians, songwriter and keyboardist, Carnell Burton, and bassist Byron Cole, respectively, and, up and coming songwriter, Jazelle Paris, who is currently on tour with Cee-Lo Green, and is also an amazing singer.  She came into the studio and assisted on the song, "Meeting You," which was written by Carnell Burton.

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