Actor and country singer/songwriter Lari White died of peritoneal cancer at 52.
White was most famous for her music, and wrote six Top 20 country hits over the course of her career, including “That’s My Baby”, and “That’s How You Know (When You’re In Love)”. According to a post her mother Yvonne made on the family’s website, White passed away early on the morning of January 23rd, surrounded by her husband, her parents, and her three children.
White started singing from a young age, accompanying her parents in gospel songs by age 4. She attended the University of Miami Frost School of Music for voice, before starting a career singing at clubs across America. She wasn’t initially a country singer, but when she started listening to country, she was captivated. “When I heard these records coming out of Nashville – Lyle Lovett, k.d. lang – I was like, “I’m going to Nashville,” she told Rolling Stone in a 2015 interview.
In 1988, the year she first moved to Nashville, she won the Nashville Network’s “You Can Be a Star” talent competition. Part of the reward was studio time, which allowed her to produce her first single, “Flying Above the Rain.” Her first album, “Lead Me Not,” was released in 1993, to acclaim and modest fame. But it was her second album, the 1994 “Wishes,” that made her a breakout star. Three singles from the album – “That’s My Baby”, “That’s How You Know (When You’re In Love)” and “Now I Know” – became Top 10 country hits.
In the following years, White continued to make music, releasing seven albums and two EPs. She started her own label, Skinny White Girl, and became the first woman to produce a male country star’s album with the release of Toby Keith’s “White Trash with Money”. Apart from her musical career, she also had several acting roles, including parts in the Tom Hanks picture “Cast Away,” the 2010 hit “Country Strong,” and the Johnny Cash biography musical “Ring of Fire.”
In September 2017, White was diagnosed with advanced peritoneal cancer, which develops in the cells lining the inside of the abdomen. She first shared the news on her personal page on ArtistWorks, where she had been giving online music lessons, and mentioned that she had already undergone surgery. Her family set up a CaringBridge page to update fans and well-wishers on her progress, and White continued to document her treatment on ArtistWorks.
Due to rising treatment costs, a GoFundMe was set up in early January 2018 to help White and her family with their medical expenses. It raised over $90,000 in 12 days and exceeded its $100,000 goal. Unfortunately, the chemotherapy wasn’t able to halt the progress of cancer, and White passed away on January 23rd.
White is survived by her parents, two siblings, long-time husband Chuck Cannon, and their three children, but will be missed by many others. In one of the last posts on the family’s CaringBridge account, White’s mother wrote, “I have never known a person who did not love her and respect her, as evidenced by the great outpouring of love and concern of so many people.” She continued, “We are blessed to be her family. Chuck and their three children are blessed to have her as wife and mother. Thank you, God, for Lari!”
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