Drake White Ignites a ‘Spark’ with Debut Album

After three years of anticipation, Drake White's debut album, Spark, is out now.

Written by Chuck Dauphin
Drake White Ignites a ‘Spark’ with Debut Album
Drake White; Photo by David McClister

After three years of anticipation, Drake White’s debut albumSpark, is out now. He’s simply glad to have the music available for the fans. “There’s a lot of relief, and of course, a lot of joy,” he tells Sounds Like Nashville. “There’s a lot of excitement to see how people react to it. I know we put a good foot forward in what’s in it. I just hope people go out and get it.”

The music on Spark represent the influences White felt growing up in tiny Hokes Bluff, Alabama – and they cut far and wide. “I listened to a lot of music growing up, and being from the geographical area I’m from in Alabama, there’s a lot of soul, R&B, Rock, and Country influences. There’s even a lot of Bluegrass influences. Growing up in Church, I had a lot of Gospel in my spirit, and that just comes out. It’s definitely like a Country-Soul album, with some Rock and Roll too.”

White has been performing much of the new music this year while opening shows for the Zac Brown Band, which he says has been unforgettable. “He and his whole crew are class acts. It’s been an educational experience for us to go in and watch them play. We’ve learned a lot, and it’s also pushed us to the next limit of bringing it to the people every night – not that we didn’t before, but Zac pushes you hard.” Also a highlight is the delectable cuisine that Brown has in the backstage area of his tours. “You have to go at it hard to work off the food that he’s feeding you backstage that Chef Rusty is cooking up. Zac is so innovative, and he’s into everything. I’m much the same way.”

One of the more interesting tracks on Spark is “Elvis.” What is about “The King” that continues to influence to this day? White has his thoughts. “I think that Elvis had a spirit, and an aura about him when he walked in. There was a confidence about him where he just took it over. I think his influence on music – his ability to sing and dance was one thing, but his attitude of ‘I’m going to go in and do what I wanna do and be who I wanna be,’ I think was very controversial at the time. But, he kept doing what was in his soul. He was the original Rock star.”

Cover Art Courtesy of Dot Records

Cover Art Courtesy of Dot Records

Another highlight from the disc is “Living The Dream.” When asked what that term meant to him, he said keeping it simple was key. “Living the dream to me is just making music the rest of my life, and having a simple world on my farm, hanging out and growing tomatoes, and having a good fire to sit in front of during the fall, and watching a lot of sunrises and sunsets with my family. From a career standpoint, it’s about making music the rest of my life, and making the music that I want to make that affects people in a positive way.”

For an artist who is releasing his debut album, White already has quite the reputation for his energetic live show. He says being on stage is a blast, but sometimes the highlight of the night comes from what you see in the audience. “One of the funniest things I ever saw was at a NASCAR event. This guy was on a motorized wheel chair, and he was jamming in the front row – just hanging out. The crowd picks him up, and he crowd surfs through the crowd in the motorized wheel chair, and his face was just pure joy the whole time,” he says with a smile.

Spark is also important to White as he was able to include family in the album – in a very unique way. “I loved Pink Floyd’s album The Wall. I loved the voices, and all the things that they put in there. I also was heavily influenced by my grandfather, who was a Baptist preacher. He taught me a lot about the outdoors, but also so much about just life in general. I got the idea to take some of his old sermons off of tape, and digitally remaster them. I then put splices of them in between the songs. That’s what you hear before ‘Heartbeat,’ and three or four more times on the record. I’m proud of that idea, and that it became reality.”

Growing up in SEC country, White is a graduate of Auburn University. However, when it comes to their yearly showdown with their in-state rival from Tuscaloosa, he is also a realist. “I do not think we’ll win the Iron Bowl. Alabama is just too strong. Their recruiting class is great, and they’ve got a new quarterback coming in. I don’t look for Alabama to have any downfalls anytime soon, but I think Tennessee is going to do well in the SEC, and surprise a few, but Alabama is going to be strong as usual. Auburn is going to be better, but I don’t think they are going to beat Alabama.”