Celebrated arranger Bergen White—whose work can be heard on such classics as Jimmy Buffett’s “Come Monday,” Ronnie Milsap’s “Smoky Mountain Rain,” and Elvis Presley’s “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”—reflects on his five-decade-long career during this eighty-minute program, part of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s “Nashville Cats” series.
The interview with Bill Lloyd, held June 15, 2013, assesses White’s accomplishments not only as an arranger, but also as a recording artist and background vocalist.
A native of Oklahoma, Bergen White tells how he grew up singing in church choirs and broke into the Nashville music business singing harmonies on “sound-alike” recordings in the mid-1960s. Mentored by studio arrangers, he built his reputation on a pop-infused sound, and by the 1970s, top artists were drawing on his expertise, especially with string and horn arrangements.
Besides Buffett, Milsap, and Presley, other stars who came calling included Tim McGraw, George Jones, Lee Greenwood, and Steve Wariner. White also attracted the attention of such innovative singer-songwriters as Kris Kristofferson and Townes Van Zandt.
White describes how he established himself as a go-to background vocalist, serving as a fill-in for Country Music Hall of Fame members the Jordanaires, teaming with the Marijohn Singers, and even taking the Theodore part on an Alvin and the Chipmunks album.
While his album “For Women Only” had a limited impact when it debuted in 1970, it was re-released in 2004 to critical acclaim.
Using video clips, Bergen White reviews other memorable accomplishments, including serving as music director of the CMA Awards show for twenty-one years and arranging the accompaniment for Garth Brooks’s National Anthem performance at the 1993 Super Bowl.
Explore the Museum’s public programming: https://countrymusichalloffame.org/plan-your-visit/exhibits-activities/public-programs/
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