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BWW Feature: At Home With Darnell White

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Adored by many, and with the numbers growing, this music man keeps it real and keeps it optimistic.

BWW Feature: At Home With Darnell WhiteYou know that saying "To know him is to love him"? You would be hard-pressed to find a person who embodies that expression better than Darnell White. The musical master of all trades has a reputation that truly does precede him - just ask any of the people with whom he has worked, people that start out as colleagues and end up as family, people like Blaine Krauss, who featured Darnell in his most recent concert, or Aaron Davide Gleason who says, "I love that dude, he's one of my best friends - we talk every day!" Consider, also, that the prodigy has not stopped working since the show biz shutdown happened in March. Whether playing for artists or establishments, arranging music, or just being someone to lean on, he is always there to lend his time and his talent to any artist who asks, to any person in need.

Lately, Darnell has been giving himself to the patrons of Midtown Manhattan eatery The Hourglass Tavern, one of the neighborhood's most beloved establishments, and one that has not survived the harsh economic times. During their final days, Darnell has been providing sidewalk entertainment to their clientele - one of many jobs he has been doing lately that bring his music to the masses (at least, the limited, restricted, socially distanced masses).

Wanting the learn more about his work and, especially, about the premiere of an upcoming cinematic work, I emailed Mr. White to ask him to dish with me a bit and, happily, the Maestro said yes.

This interview was conducted digitally and is reproduced with only slight editing for spelling and punctuation.

Name: Darnell White

First Cabaret Show (Title, Year, Club): Wow I'm so old lol I think my first Cabaret show was a club in Lake Tahoe in the 90s

Most Recent Cabaret Show: If I don't count the shows I've MD (musical directed) for I guess my last show would've been Ginn Fizz in Harlem sometime before COVID.

Website or Social Media Handles:

Instagram: Darnellwhitemusic

Facebook: Darnell White

YouTube: All The Feels volume 1 HERE

Darnell White, how are you these days? Welcome to Broadway World!

Hey Stephen, I'm great these days all things considered. Thank you!

You have been, kind of famously in my own neighborhood, playing for one of our most beloved restaurants. What's the mood on 46th Street these days?

Well honestly it's a bit sad because of the times we are in, and a few of my favorite places have closed or are barely holding on. But it's also still full of fun, music, and love!

As a music director that usually works in live entertainment and in houses of worship, is your time at The Hourglass Tavern your return to making music in public?

BWW Feature: At Home With Darnell WhiteI've never really stopped making music in public, but I do love playing on 46th street and Hourglass Tavern is always going to be special for me (I love Beth), as are some other places I love in the area!

The audiences must be very appreciative - can they hear the music over the din of New York City?

They can definitely hear the music over the dinner crowd -- most times I worry it's too loud. Lol

You are also involved with a film project that is having its debut next month - tell us about THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS.

I am. Gospel at Colonus is a musical based on the Sophocles play Oedipus at Colonus conceived by Lee Breuer and composed by Bob Telson, that was performed with Morgan Freeman and the Philadelphia playhouse is the 80s! It's very rooted music, as some of the original performers were The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Soul Stirrers, and the legendary Gospel organist Butch Heyward. We are lucky to have people like Michael Williams on Organ and Angela Birchett from the Clark Sisters Movie!!!

This project was actually filmed since coronavirus hit the States: what was your experience working on this project during a shelter in place order?

My experience with this production has been wonderful! We are doing it as a movie! Gregory Omar Osbourne (Progressive Theatre Group) is directing, and they have been wonderful about making sure everyone is safe and that all social regulation are followed

It wasn't the only project you worked on while in quarantine. You contributed to the Aaron Gleason/Lauren Marcus song LESS OF ME. Did many of your colleagues reach out to you for help in their quarantine creations?

BWW Feature: At Home With Darnell WhiteI have actually been quite busy during Corona, and while the financial gains have certainly taken a massive hit I have a wonderful circle of people that have kept me creative and working!

Yes, I did some vocal arranging for Aaron Gleason/Lauren Marcus on the beautiful song Less Of Me! I also filmed a video album of all original songs which is on YouTube - All The Feels Volume One, with Jared Michael Brown and Paul Flanagan from Sensible Cabaret. I've also done some virtual theatre shows with artists like Blaine Alden Krauss, Amma Ossei, Asa Lovechild and some other artists in the city!

The musicians of the industry are, obviously, bound together by their work - how are the artists holding up? Has the community found ways to support one another spiritually?

The musicians are truly having a tough time now. Many of the residency's are gone, and with everything closed or restricted it's been difficult. I think everyone is trying to support as much as they can, after all, most of us are in the same boat. I always say artists live on the periphery of perception, and to be an artist is a blessing, even in the most difficult of times! We are strong and we are the memory of all civilizations, so we will always survive!

As we head into the holiday sprint and the election, with the health crisis and all that goes with it, where are you finding your own strength and solace?

BWW Feature: At Home With Darnell WhiteWow my strength and solace come mostly from within - it has to! I certainly have people in my life that give me a boost! I have amazing friends, in and out of the industry, that have been more generous of spirit than I could've ever imagined I have Art! I have David (LaMarr, his boyfriend), who inspires me daily and is often the air in my lungs! I have also had enough ups and downs in my life to know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that no matter how bad today seems, tomorrow's mountain is always higher than today's valley!

Are there places online or in person where people can catch you in the act? Are you taking on virtual clients?

A moment of Clarity with Blaine Alden Krauss HERE

Axelrod performing Arts center virtual series HERE

All The Feels volume one HERE

These are some of the places you can see me doing my thing, and like most New York musicians right now, I try to do what I can outside, or outdoor spaces when I can and the opportunities come! I do take some virtual clients but mostly I work out of studios in midtown when I'm coaching - it's much easier and they have large enough spaces for 2 people to be in.

And how is life at home, in the time of coronavirus? Everyone staying safe and sane?

Everyone is staying safe, as for the sane part well....... lol

Will you and David be able to do the holiday season with family, or will you be socially distancing?

BWW Feature: At Home With Darnell WhiteWe've not made any holiday decisions yet, we just try to get through our todays, lol but I'm sure we will be together!

So, when are you and David going to work together on some music or a show?

David and I are always planning something. We get distracted sometimes because we both can get quite busy at the same time, but we have a few things in the works. He will always be My Favorite. He is clearly one of the bravest and most passionate artists in the business and that comes through in all his performances! He also does the best arrangements; he recently gathered a bunch of my musical catalogue and is working on some things with that. We both definitely work best when we are in moments of inspiration

And where can people catch THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS on November 26th?

Gospel at Colonus will premiere on Broadway HD and other video outlets Nov 26th. I'm quite excited; it was such a fun project!

Darnell, thank you so much for chatting with us today - I am really looking forward to seeing GOSPEL on the 26th!

YAY! Thanks so much Stephen!

Photos courtesy of Misters White and LaMarr.


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