Lari White, a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, producer and actress, has died in hospice care after a battle with advanced peritoneal cancer. She was 52. As a country artist, White scored six Top 20 country hits, including the Top 10 singles “That’s My Baby,” “Now I Know” and “That’s How You Know (When You’re in Love).” As an actor, she appeared opposite Tom Hanks in 2000’s Cast Away.
Diagnosed last September with the rare form of cancer, which develops in the thin layer of tissue lining the abdomen, White suffered a series of complications and hospital visits, which she detailed in a post on Artistworks, where she had been teaching online vocal lessons. A GoFundMe page had been set up for the singer and her husband, musician and songwriter Chuck Cannon, to help the family with mounting medical expenses.
In addition to her recording career, White co-produced Toby Keith’s 2006 LP White Trash With Money, as well as albums by Billy Dean and Shawn Mullins. On the big screen, she made a brief but memorable appearance in Cast Away and also had roles in the 2010 country-music drama Country Strong and the made-for-TV films No Regrets and XXX’s & OOO’s.
A recording contract with Capitol led to the release of a single, “Flying Above the Rain,” giving her a minor regional hit. Signing with Ronnie Milsap’s publishing company, she wrote songs that were cut by Shelby Lynne (“What About the Love We Made”) and Tammy Wynette (“Where’s the Fire”), among others. She also began taking acting lessons and appeared in several plays and musicals around town. In 1992, White began touring as a back-up singer for Rodney Crowell. The following year, she released her debut LP for RCA, Lead Me Not, co-produced by Crowell with guitarist Steuart Smith. The following year, Wishes would prove to be her breakthrough album, with three consecutive Top Ten hits: “That’s My Baby,” “Now I Know,” and “That’s How You Know (When You’re in Love),” featuring Hal Ketchum. “That’s My Baby” and “That’s How You Know” were co-written by White with Cannon, whom she married in April 1994. Her next LP, Don’t Fence Me In, was issued in December 1995, with the Cole Porter-penned title cut featuring guest vocals from Shelby Lynne and Trisha Yearwood. A move to
Records produced one LP, Stepping Stone, and contained her final Billboard singles chart entries, the Top 20 title cut, “Take Me,” which was on the Bubbling Under the Hot 100 pop survey, and the minor hit “John Wayne Walking Away.”
In 2004, White released the critically acclaimed R&B-flavored Green Eyed Soul, her first of two albums on her own Skinny White Girl label. The follow-up, 2007’s My First Affair, was a live document of the diverse material she performed in her cabaret act at
White is survived by her husband, Chuck Cannon, and their three children.