On August 25, 2009, I was afforded the privilege to interview an American Idol alumna-a gifted vocalist, instrumentalist and songwriter- the stunning Brooke White. Brooke White was the fifth place finalist on the seventh season of American Idol. Her new album, “High Hopes and Heartbreak,” released by June Baby Records, has received rave reviews from music critics.
An Arizona native, White first performed in public at the age of 15, where she auditioned for her school musical, Meet Me In St. Louis, and ended up with the lead role. This marked the beginning of her path into music.
White remarks that “American Idol has changed everything in my life. At the end of the day, I’m still the same person but all my external factors have really changed. I have a real opportunity to make things happen to pursue music as a career. When you’ve been exposed to 30 – 40 million people and go out into the public, it is very bizarre; people recognize you and know a lot about you and your personal life.”
While on American Idol, White “enjoyed working with everybody from the ‘behind the scenes’ people, to the other contestants. They were just amazing! I’m a ‘people person.’ I made a lot of great friendships with everyone” she says. For White, “Idol was amazing on one hand, but on the other hand extremely challenging. It was a big roller coaster ride, where you make a lot of sacrifices, but to receive really positive feedback and response for my new album, I’m extremely grateful.”
White’s biggest musical influence is Carole King. King’s album “Tapestry” is what convinced White to take music to the next level. Particularly impressive is that Carole King was an alumna of Queens College from the 1960s. Other inspirations include classic singer-songwriters James Taylor and Carly Simon, groups like Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Elton John and Stevie Wonder. “That is my foundation, but I listen to everything. I’m a lover of music. All my influences started where you are at [Queens],” White laughs. On receiving a phone call from her idol, Carly Simon, White remarks that this “obviously was pretty surreal. I would have never come to expect it. It’s one of those crazy things that happen to you while you’re on American Idol. It was very validating to hear from her and to receive her praise. I was taken aback by it all.”
White also served as a spokesperson for Malaria No More, a fund-raising campaign where “every night on that tour I was able to go out on stage and talk about the effects malaria has particularly in Africa.” White got to use the forum of Idol for something positive and would love to continue lending her voice for such causes.
White co-wrote eleven of the twelve tracks on her new album. “Although all of the songs are special to me in one way or another, I have a bond with ‘Hold Up My Heart’ because it was the first song I recorded for the record. It was the first time I experienced the magic of recording with a live band in a studio” she says.
Her plans for the future include being out on the road and connecting with the fans with material from “High Hopes and Heartbreak.” She hopes to continue making more music, as well as songwriting and producing, since she really enjoys those aspects of things. Eventually, White would like to have some kids as well and jokes that she wants to be a “musical momma.”
White states that “collaboration is a great thing and I’ve always had a pretty positive experience with it. I feel I can collaborate with just about anybody. Jason Castro and I always talked about singing something together. Collaborating with one of my idols would be incredible.”
White collaborated with fellow Idol alum, Michael Johns on “Life is Okay,” a song which he wrote. White states that “everybody responded incredibly well to this song and we’re going on tour together and will be performing this song on the road.” In addition, Johns also helped White co-write a song on her record called “Little Bird.”
Her proudest professional moments include “putting out this record, getting to perform ‘Teach Your Children’ with Graham Nash on the Idol Finale, making it on Idol, and getting to go as far as I did.” Her favorite songs that she performed on Idol were “You’re So Vain,” singing “Love Is A Battlefield” with a more acoustic vibe. Her favorite songs to perform live are the Beatles’ “Let It Be,” and “Rhiannon” by Fleetwood Mac. The hardest aspect of her job includes “being away from home, family, friends, sleep, and traveling.” If White weren’t a musician, she would want an artistic career in “interior design, graphic design, photography or something to that effect.”
For Queens College students interested in pursuing careers in the music industry, White recommends that “they should ask themselves what their goal is, and what they really want, and if they are willing to work hard for it. You have to be genuinely in love with the music and you have to be willing to persist through all the challenges that come your way. You need to have a sense of who you are as a person. As an artist, you need to have an identity and really stay true to it.”
For White, success is “a collection of little moments when you are realizing your dreams. There are little increments of success that happen along the way: getting a golden ticket to Hollywood, making the Top 24, then making it to the Top 10, then the Top 5, going on tour, getting a deal, writing songs, and being in a studio. Success is a collection of moments when you realized that you’ve arrived.”
White concludes that “I love my fans! My fans make it possible for me to make music. I love your guts! It’s so important to have people that connect with your music and make it possible for me to keep going. You are amazing!”
Telephone Communication. Brooke White. August 25, 2009.