R.I.P. Ethan White of Tortured Soul

(March 7, 2015) At SoulTracks we often report on life events of the artists we cover, but rarely do we feel as devastated to deliver news as we do right now.  We are sorry to inform SoulTrackers of the sudden, unexpected, far too early death at age 39 of Ethan White, co-founder and keyboardist of one of our favorite groups, Tortured Soul. With his bandmates, Ethan created one of the most unique sounds in music and gathered an incredibly strong fan base for the trio's fantastic mix of dance and soul music.

(March 7, 2015) At SoulTracks we often report on life events of the artists we cover, but rarely do we feel as devastated to deliver news as we do right now.  We are sorry to inform SoulTrackers of the sudden, unexpected, far too early death at age 39 of Ethan White, co-founder and keyboardist of one of our favorite groups, Tortured Soul. With his bandmates, Ethan created one of the most unique sounds in music and gathered an incredibly strong fan base for the trio's fantastic mix of dance and soul music.

Ethan began playing piano at age 7, studying classical music at first. He discovered jazz in his early teens and later moved to New York to study with legendary jazz pianist Donald Friedman. This led to a regular spot at the Birdland, where he played with the jazz luminaries who visited the Big Apple. In the late 90s, Ethan joined the acid jazz group Topaz, before splitting off with drummer Christian Urich and bassist Jason Kriveloff (later replaced by Jordan Scanella) to form Tortured Soul, a trio that quickly established themselves as one of the great live dance groups of the era. Tortured Soul garnered a loyal fanbase around the world through their unique sound and near-ceaseless touring. Their debut album topped the SoulTracks charts for three months and became one of the most popular albums ever on our site.

As we wrote about them when they broke out a decade ago: It would be an understatement to say that Soul Music and House Music have not always peacefully coexisted.  To many Soul purists, House (like Disco before it) was like a musical one-night stand.  It often tried to capture specific pleasurable elements of Soul but ended up gutting much of the emotional element that Soul brings -- you could dance to it, but you didn't feel it inside.  And it didn't help that much of House was overtly mechanical and lyrically vacuous, removing the human and spiritual elements that were at the heart of Soul. Into this mix Tortured Soul came, with the premise of creating Live House Music.  Tortured Soul's goal was to bring additional Jazz and Soul elements to House (hence, the appropriate group name), and to move the genre beyond the mechanistic and into a more interesting and listenable blend. Make no mistake, Tortured Soul's music is directly aimed at the dance floor, and that's okay.  But they have pulled off the impressive feet of making music that's also engaging outside of the club -- something that is just as fun to listen to in your car or your house.

In addition to his work with Tortured Soul, Ethan collaborated with DJ Ed Dunn to form DunnEasy, releasing several singles in 2007-8. He also released his own solo single, “Find the Way,” and produced and remixed music for several other artists.

Just as important as his musical creds, Ethan had a reputation as being a terrific guy. I only met him once, but we communicated regularly over the years, and he was unceasingly great to me and to SoulTracks. 

Ethan leaves behind a beautiful wife, Tarrah, and twin babies Elias and Pearl. Many of Ethan's friends initiated a fund to help his family after this tragic event, and SoulTrackers helped a great bit.

We send our deepest condolences to Ethan's family and his many, many friends, who will all be in our thoughts and prayers.

By Chris Rizik

 

 

 

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