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  • Born

    3 July 1929 (age 94)

  • Born In

    Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, United States

Biography by Richard Skelly

Texas-based vocalist and songwriter "Miss" Lavelle White has a significant discography of singles, most dating back to the 1950s and '60s, but she only released her first full length album, Miss Lavelle, on the Austin, TX-based Antone's label in 1994. To say the album has been a long time coming would be the understatement of the year, for White's talents as a songwriter and singer were well-known in 1950s Houston, where she recorded several singles for the Duke/Peacock labels. In the late '50s, her labelmates included Bobby "Blue" Bland, B.B. King, and Junior Parker. Miss Lavelle was White's first recording of any kind, in fact, in 30 years. The fact that it's a gorgeous album helped White play some large blues festivals across the U.S., Canada, and Europe, but for a number of years when she had no record deal, White continued to entertain club crowds with her singing in Chicago, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida.

White's first big break as a vocalist came about with something she wrote for herself, "If I Could Be with You," and a procession of other singles followed for the Duke/Peacock label, including "Just Look at You Fool," "Stop These Teardrops," and "The Tide of Love." Unlike many other blues singers, White didn't get started recording until she was 25, thanks to fellow Houstonian Johnny "Clyde" Copeland, who brought White to Duke/Peacock owner Don Robey's attention.

White began writing poems and songs when she was 12, she said in a 1994 interview. "Hardships in life made me start to write," she explained, "and the first record I cut was with a gospel group,'Precious Lord, Lead Me On.'" When she was 16, White moved to Houston and fell into the city's burgeoning blues club scene with Clarence Hollimon, who now records with his wife Carol Fran for the Rounder label.

Today, long after she got her humble start in the blues clubs in Houston, White sings as well as she ever did, and though she's had time off from the road over the years, she's never stopped singing or writing songs. She released her first album, Miss Lavelle, in 1994. It was followed three years later by It Haven't Been Easy.

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