It was the early ’90s when Lari White burst on to the country music scene and produced hits like “Now I Know, “That’s My Baby” and “That’s How You Know (When You’re in Love)” from her 1994 album Wishes. Lari, originally signed to RCA Records, became the flagship artist signed to Lyric Street records when she released her fourth studio album, Stepping Stone, in 1998.
25 years after the start of her career, Lari is back with a new project, a double EP called Old Friends, New Loves. And she’s looking for help from her fans to bring the project to completion.
Enter Kickstarter, an online crowdfunding platform that allows artists to go directly to their fans to fund their work. The company’s mission is to help bring creative projects to life. “I really wanted to connect more directly with the fans and Kickstarter is the perfect platform,” Lari tells Nash Country Daily. “Instead of partnering with a record label I’m partnering directly with the people that like my music.
“Through Kickstarter my fans can come to my Kickstarter campaign page and pre-order the album. They can also order or buy other kinds of cool packages. The creators of their projects can offer all kinds of interesting, fun rewards for people who support their project. It could be as little as $15, which will give you a digital download of the whole set of music when it’s finished—all the way up to a complete band show, where I come to your house or venue and I bring my band and do a Green Eyed Soul show and bring cd’s for everybody. Everything from a pre-order of the music to a vacation in Nashville where you stay in my little bungalow in West Nashville, that I bought years ago, where I shot the ‘Now I Know’ video. There is one package where you can come for two nights, stay in the house, get tickets to the Opry or Bluebird café—I show up and cook you breakfast one morning. That’s the stuff you can’t do through a record label, but kickstarter let’s you make it up and get creative and inventive and connect with people in a really personal way. I’m really enjoying the process. It’s an experiment of me to try and reconnect with fans that I made back before the internet [laughs].”
Lari’s new album, which is currently in the works, is a compilation of songs, new and old, from her 25-year career. “The Old Friends EP is a collection of songs that I have released before or that have been hits before like, ‘That’s My Baby,’ ‘Lead Me Not’ and ‘If You Only Knew.’ It’s these new rootsy versions of those songs that have been a part of my life and career for 20 plus years,” Lari reveals. “Plus, it features special guests who are old friends, like Suzy Bogguss and Lee Roy Parnell, who just came and played slide guitar on ‘Lead Me Not.’ Shawn Mullins who is a dear, dear friend is going to come and sing on something. Travis Tritt is on the road a lot this summer so we are trying to work out his schedule for him to come in. It’s looking good, so I’m really excited about it. And the New Loves collection of songs are songs that I’ve written just in the last few years that have not been recorded before and they haven’t been released. It’s a pretty eclectic set.”
Lari may have been on a break as an artist for a period of time, but she was by no means just lying low after her ’90s success. Lari was busy writing songs, producing other projects— including Toby Keith’s White Trash With Money and Shawn Mulllins My Stupid Heart—and having a family with husband Chuck Cannon, who is also a songwriter.
“I felt like I needed to take a time out. It was a nesting instinct probably. I just wanted to be in my home, be in the studio at the house, be pregnant and write songs and see what I could come up with in the studio. And Green Eyed Soul [Lari’s 2004 studio album] came out of that time period.”
And if that wasn’t enough, Lari starred in the Broadway play Ring of Fire, acted in the major motion picture Castaway with Tom Hanks, created her own independent record label, Skinny White Girl Records, and is now mom to three teenagers, M’Kenzy, Jaxon and Kyra.
“I’ve been in the studio producing albums on other music artists. For several years I have not put out music myself. I put my fan club on hiatus, I’ve been home-schooling my kids and producing records in the studio and I just really have been writing songs. I’ve got some new songs that nobody’s heard. It was just really time to put out some new music and I wanted to do it in a new really personal way. I have a great team, very small lean team that I’ve put together here in Nashville. There’s no way to do it by myself. But we are an independent thing, it’s our team and through the Kickstarter platform—that’s our distribution, our vehicle to get the word out. Of course, I’m just now plugging into social media for real. Facebook, Facebook fan page, twitter and Instagram, I am finally entering the brave new world. The good thing about that is I am connecting with my fans in a very personal way.”
Old Friends, New Loves is currently being recorded and expected to be ready in the fall. “I’m making the record this summer, so people who come and become part of the Kickstarter campaign, by contributing any amount, get behind-the-scenes access to the whole process of making the record. For our Kickstarter backers, I am posting video content, blogs, rough mixes, all kinds of behind-the-scenes content that only backers have access to throughout the whole process of making the record. My fall tour starts with the Big Barn Dance in Taos, New Mexico, the second week of Sept., and I will have the finished album in hand. That will be the first place that the physical copy can be bought. But my Kickstarter [backers]—I will have sent them the digital download. They will have gotten the advance of [the album] before the physical copy is even manufactured.”
To help fund Lari’s new project, Old Friends, New Loves, you can go to her Kickstarter page.