Brooke White is truly a jill of all trades. Upon launching her musical career on Season 7 of American Idol, the Arizona born-and-bred and now California-based artist has constantly been on the move, keeping herself busy by dabbling into various creative outlets—singing, songwriting, acting, painting, blogging, and even hosting an online web-series.
In every endeavor Brooke takes on, a common purpose of spreading kindness and contributing something to the greater good is always present. This December, in the true spirit of the holiday season, she’s mixing passion with purpose, by making music that makes a difference…and with a little help from her friends. Through PledgeMusic, Brooke (along with ten of her fellow musically-minded friends) are working towards creating and releasing a collaborative charity album filled with original lullabies and happy songs, with proceeds going towards supporting Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), an organization dedicated to implementing rescue missions to save kidnapped children from sexual slavery.
In an exclusive interview with The Hudsucker, Brooke shares the inspiration behind this good-hearted musical album, how the collaborations came together, the story of her involvement with O.U.R., and how YOU can help support this project.
The Hudsucker: Your fans have been long looking forward to hearing a lullaby album from you, especially since you became a mom (to the adorable London!) What impact has motherhood had on your songwriting?
Brooke White: Thank you! Yes this record was a long time coming, and this cause just seemed like the most natural fit and gave me a reason to finally bring it to fruition! Motherhood has had such an enormous impact on me as a human being, as a creative person and in almost every other imaginable way. However, it’s not till this record that I have written a song just for London. It was the very last thing to go on the record, I actually just wrote it and recorded it a few days ago and I feel like it is the crowning jewel on the record. It is raw, just me the guitar and a little bit of strings at the end. I think it’s one of the songs I am most proud of, of all my material. It fell from the heavens and into my heart and poured out. It’s one of those songs that feels entirely inspired, it’s personal and very real. It’s appropriately titled “London Girl”. I just listened back to the finished product and yeah, I cried.
The Hudsucker: This record of lullabies and happy songs is filled with what you describe as “pretty and magical tunes of joy and comfort”. What kind of message do you hope to impart to listeners through the music you share?
Brooke White: I have recently made the executive decision to change the title to “Never Grow Up” which is the first track on the record, and I feel perfectly captures the spirit that the whole record exudes. I think I just wanted to make people feel happy and hopeful, it’s just as much for adults as it is for kids. I wanted grown ups to remember the magic of childhood, and I went back in time to find some of these songs like “Cherry Lane” which is the first street I lived on (actually my mom just told me it was Cheery Lynn, close enough [smiles]). It was a collaboration with David Archuleta, and I couldn’t help but love the sentimental and joyful vibe it brings. Then there are soft songs of comfort, lullabies that bring a gentle message of sweet dreaming and peace.
The Hudsucker: The songs on this album were written and recorded with other musicians. Why did you decide to craft together a collaborative album with your fellow musician friends?
Brooke White: I feel there is power in numbers. Two heads are better than one. I am a collaborator at heart. I enjoy learning from other people and being apart of something outside of myself. Given that it is for such a special charity, I wanted it to be built on a sense of community, a coming together to do something good and worthwhile, and make change. It was truly an amazing and yet challenging process. Some songs really lent themselves to one voice over another, sometimes it was a perfect balance and made for a solid duet, sometimes I stepped out of the way and let the other voice take the lead, or I would sing harmonies, or maybe it was a special instrumental part the other person would contribute. Above all it was important to keep it ego-free, it wasn’t about credit or us, but the cause and the spirit of the music and I am so happy to say that is exactly how it worked out. I hope the fans can feel that too.
The Hudsucker: Among the singer-songwriters you recruited for this record are Jack Matranga, Deana Carter, Leigh Nash, Mindy Gledhill, Daniel Tashian, Lucy Schwartz, John Hanson and Chris Seefried! Can you tell us about how each of them became a part of “Never Grow Up”?
Brooke White: Jack Matranga is my songwriting partner in crime from Jack and White, our band. We had an old song “Surrender” that we never used that I knew was perfect for this record. I met Deana Carter about 4 years ago in a songwriting session. We just clicked and became fast friends and soul sisters. I admire and respect the legacy she’s built and I look at her like a mentor. She has a heart of gold and didn’t hesitate to say yes when I asked her to be a part of this project. Leigh Nash was not someone I knew before this record, but we have mutual friends and I thought it would be the ideal opportunity to bring our voices together. I was BLOWN AWAY by her voice, her character and her kindness. She’s my new best friend. Mindy Gledhill and I have known each other via the internet for years and this was a collaboration waiting to happen. She is a brilliant singer songwriter and what she brought to this record was nothing short of magic. Daniel Tashian happens to be the lead singer of my favorite band “The Silver Seas”. We had never met but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask him if he would produce and write with me for this record. I kind of geeked out on the phone talking to him and he still agreed. It was a dream come true to work with him in the studio in Nashville. He’s a genius and it brought out the best in me. I’m gonna go back! Lucy Schwartz and I are both Yamaha artists and we met playing at an Autism Speaks event. She is cooler then cool and muchos talented. We’ve been trying to co-write for a few years and we finally made it happen. She brought her mega gifted guitarist and boyfriend Johnny Hanson into the mix, who just came back from touring with Christina Perri, and we threw together the dreamiest lullaby that was three part harmony the whole way through. Incredible! Chris Seefried is a good friend and super producer. He produced my Christmas record “White Christmas” and we have done a lot of writing together and I knew he had to be a part of the mix.
The Hudsucker: American Idol fans are stoked to see you reunite and collaborate with two of your good friends from your Idol family, Carly Smithson and David Archuleta. Can you discuss their interest and involvement in this project?
Brooke White: Carly Smithson was obviously part of my idol family and continues to be one of my closest friends as we both are moms of toddlers – we can really relate. Her voice is so powerful and pro. I am so glad she agreed to be a part of it. David Archuleta was on my wish list and he’s so busy I almost didn’t ask because I didn’t want to bother him, but he is such a close friend and I knew having his vocal on this record would be a highlight. I only wish I could hear even more of it! He has a heart to match his voice, such a GREAT human being. We had a blast!
The Hudsucker: Can you tell us more about your collaborations with these artists? How did you manage to coordinate the songwriting and recording sessions? Is this an album of all original songs? Is there a consistent theme among the tracks on the album?
Brooke White: [laughs] It was VERY challenging trying to coordinate a bunch of artists schedules, not all of them came to fruition, but I am so happy for the ones that did. My manager did SO much to make this happen and he truly propelled the project and am so grateful for his hard work in supporting me and seeing this through to the end. The entire record is original from start to finish. And seeing that every song was a collaboration, it is very eclectic in songs and styles but all with the common theme of childlike joy.
The Hudsucker: Your charity of choice for this benefit project is Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), an organization devoted to rescuing kidnapped children from sexual slavery. Why do you believe O.U.R. is so important to highlight? What about their mission and efforts ignited you enough to support their cause in such a big way?
Brooke White: I searched for six months for the right charity, it was much more challenging than I expected and I really struggled to know what was the right one. There are endless causes, none more important to another. However, I have to credit God for absolutely leading me to O.U.R. When I came upon this cause and learned about it’s incredible mission, I knew right away that it was the one. I loved how transparent and easy it was to understand their efforts. I love how PROACTIVE it is, this isn’t just awareness and t-shirts, its about going in and RESCUING the children and PLACING them in safety and REHABILITATING them after such unimaginable trauma. Being a mom, this became increasingly more meaningful. Many of us aren’t aware that this is a real problem that is happening even right here in our own country, it’s almost unthinkable, but we have to really educate ourselves so that we are moved to action. I believe we have a duty to protect the innocence of children. I feel this so strongly and I couldn’t be more committed to this cause that is really making a difference.
The Hudsucker: To those supporters who pledge through PledgeMusic, what should they expect from the pledging experience, in terms of rewards, exclusives, and further awareness of the impact of their donations?
Brooke White: If you go to the site you can see all of the ways they can donate, it can be as small as $10 and in return they will receive our gift of this sweet record, to a big donation for a living room concert from moi [smiles]. There are signed records by all of the other artists, as well as a guitar signed by everyone who contributed, a small Skype concert, handwritten lyrics and more. But mostly my hope for the pledge platform is to bring people to the cause, again to become educated and informed and open their eyes to this problem that we all can come together and effect change. While I started with a generous donation of $20k from Foundation Entertainment, which funds one rescue mission, I wanted to double that number to $40k to fund 2 rescue missions. I wanted to contribute of myself, my time and my talents, bring in the force of community. Again, there is strength in numbers. I am incredibly grateful to anyone and everyone who takes a moment to learn, donate and be a part of the movement against human trafficking and child sex slavery.
The Hudsucker: Upon completion of this campaign, what’s next for you in terms of charitable and musical projects you have on the horizon?
Brooke White: It’s been an incredibly busy year. I definitely plan to re-coup a bit after this is finished. However I am excited for Jack and White’s 4th and final release coming in the new year. We continue to write songs and have some potential new projects to share in the future. I continue to co-host and release videos on The Girls with Glasses Show on our YouTube channel alongside my close friend Summer Bellessa. Lastly I hope to expand my family and give Londy Loo a sibling. I have a lot of hope for 2015 and look forward to sharing it with such an amazing community of friends and fans that I have made through the years.
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For further information on Brooke White + Friends’ “Never Grow Up” and how you can support O.U.R., check out the project page on PledgeMusic.
Through the gifts of music and friendship, and the acts of taking action and spreading awareness, we can help make a difference in the lives of kidnapped children.