Willie White Critic's Choice Free Recommended Soundboard

When: Sun., Jan. 11, 9 p.m. 2009

Over the past 16 years local blues singer WILLIE WHITE has served as a sideman to the likes of Bobby Rush and Little Milton, either playing keyboards or adding backup vocals if not doing both, but under his own name he’s barely known outside the circuit of south- and west-side clubs where he usually performs. His first full-length CD, this year’s Party Hardy (ZTae Music), should help put him on the path to a national career of his own. White’s vocals are thick and muscular, invested with deep soul passion, and even on up-tempo booty shakers he never loses the handle on his tightly controlled vibrato or neglects his armamentarium of subtle emotional shadings. On ballads like “Always Thinking About You” he sets the stage with choked gasps and gruff, blues-inflected interludes, building up the depth of his feeling before soaring into a testimonial of desire and release; on lighter fare like the title tune, his crisp enunciation and confident rhythm make him sound like a suave, good-natured player, determined to party away sorrow and hard times. -David Whiteis

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