A Big Time Celebration of Life

A Lifetime In The Making (Ceili Music)

The Whites

By Bob Mitchell

There is something special about family harmony. Think about it: The Everly Brothers, Bill and Charlie Monroe, The Carter Family and Ralph and Carter Stanley. Since 1971, The Whites have delighted us with their distinctive vocal magic. Produced by Jerry Douglas (Dobro superman and hero), the release is a satisfying mix of folk, western swing, Bluegrass, country and soul-touching gospel. They don't use the title anymore, but The Whites are still "Down Home Folks," friendly, neighborly and unpretentious. Somehow, you get the feeling they are in your living room singing just for you.

"Before The Prairie Met The Plain" is a plaintive portrait of a time when bison were able to roam the country at will. The recording also contains three compelling songs by Billy Joe Foster. In addition to "Before The Prairie," Foster blends insight and emotion into "Apron String" (a sensitive love song directed toward mothers) and "Texas To A T", a clever set of lyrics sung to a jazzy western swing beat. Bryan Sutton's guitar and Aubrey Hayney's fiddle are polished and bright. Another favorite cut is a lively Bluegrass instrumental tribute to Kenny Baker. Kenny is, no doubt, best remembered for his years as Bill Monroe's fiddler. It is also worth noting that, in 1971, Baker was the first artist to record with The Whites.

Emmylou Harris joins Sharon and Cheryl White on a heart catching cover of Maybelle Carter's classic "Fair and Tender Ladies." The release contains several gospel songs, but "Jesus Is The Missing Piece" is a standout for the White Family Vocal at its best. If I had heard this song in church instead of on a CD I would have doubled my contribution in the offering plate. Ceili music (pronounced kay-lee) was founded in 1997 by Ricky Skaggs. The word "ceili," as regular readers of the Celtic Corner column in this paper know, means an informal gathering of family and friends for music. A Lifetime In The Making certainly captures the spirit of the label.

If you like music that makes you feel good, latch on to a copy of this one.

To learn more about this release, visit your favorite music store or contact Celi Music at PO Box 2478, Hendersonville, Tennessee, 37075, or call 1-615-264-8877. You can also find out more at  www.skaggsfamilyrecords.com.