MUSICAL ARRANGER BERGEN WHITE TO BE SALUTED JUNE 15 AS NEXT NASHVILLE CAT AT THE COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME® AND MUSEUM
NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 23, 2013 – The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s quarterly program series Nashville Cats: A Celebration of Music City Musicians returns on Saturday, June 15, with a salute to musical arranger Bergen White. The 1:30 p.m. interview, held in the museum's Ford Theater, is included with museum admission and free to museum members. The program will be streamed live at countrymusichalloffame.org.
Hosted by Bill Lloyd, the program will include an in-depth, one-on-one interview illustrated with vintage recordings, photos and film clips from the museum’s Frist Library and Archive. Seating for the program is limited, and program passes are required for admittance. Immediately following, White will sign limited edition, commemorative Hatch Show Print® posters in the Museum Store. (Visit the museum’s website for complete admission and signing details.)
Bergen White started his career as a vocalist in the 1950s, but he is best known as the man behind the memorable horn and string arrangements featured on country, pop and R&B hits such as “Welcome to My World” (Eddy Arnold), “God Bless the USA” (Lee Greenwood), “The Chokin’ Kind” (Joe Simon), “Holes in the Floor of Heaven” (Steve Wariner) and “Polk Salad Annie” (Tony Joe White).
Bergen White was born in Miami, Oklahoma, on July 18, 1939. His father, a Baptist preacher, moved the family around the South before settling in Nashville when White was 14 years old. He had no formal music training but learned to read music while singing in the church choir. After moving to Nashville, White met and became friends with songwriters Buzz Cason and Bobby Russell; the trio eventually recorded together as the Todds.
After college and a two-year stint teaching math and science, White teamed with Russell to record for Hit Records. White soon met producer Bill Justis, who gave him the opportunity to create arrangements for recording sessions.
While White honed his arranging skills, he continued to record. He joined Ronny & the Daytonas (of “G.T.O.” fame) and, in the late 1960s, began recording solo. He cut For Women Only, an album for Shelby Singleton’s SSS International label, which became a cult favorite.
In 1969, White began earning a reputation for his musical arrangements when Joe Simon’s “The Chokin’ Kind” reached #1 on the Billboard R&B chart and Tony Joe White’s “Polk Salad Annie” cracked the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The latter song caught the ear of Elvis Presley, who recruited White to arrange songs for him—including “Hurt” and “Moody Blue.”
White’s other notable arrangements include “Come Monday” (Jimmy Buffett), “The Grand Tour” (George Jones), “Please Remember Me” (Tim McGraw) and “Smoky Mountain Rain” (Ronnie Milsap). His credits as an arranger appear on records from artists as diverse as Chet Atkins, Garth Brooks, England Dan and John Ford Coley, Olivia Newton-John, Dolly Parton and George Strait.
Throughout his arranging career, White remained a vocalist. Among his efforts are a cover of “Duke of Earl” in the 1970s, a gospel album in 1980 and a holiday release in 1998 (with the Bergen White Christmas Singers).
White’s talents extend beyond recording sessions; he also arranges music for awards shows and television specials. He served as music director for the CMA Awards for more than 20 years. He also served as music director for Country's Grandest Homecoming: The Country Music Hall of Fame's 25th Anniversary Celebration and numerous Grand Ole Opry TV specials.
White lives in Nashville and continues to arrange music.
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The museum’s mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the foundation also operates CMF Records, the museum’s Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B and Hatch Show Print®.
More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is available at countrymusichalloffame.org or by calling (615) 416-2001.