Although Theo White now spends time singing about and praising Christian teachings, his musical aspirations weren’t always focused on gospel music.
Originally from Little Rock, Arkansas, White grew up wanting to be a famous R&B singer. His grandmother thought differently.
“She said, ‘No, I’m sorry, you’re going to be singing for the Lord,’” White said. “I said, ‘No I’m not, I’m going to make millions of dollars being like R. Kelly.’”
While his grandmother ultimately was correct, White held on to his R&B dreams for a while. He said he grew up singing and writing songs with his childhood friend and performing the songs for other children in the neighborhood. He also took part in choir while in high school.
White said he gave up on his dreams of a secular music career when he was 18. The decision came after he gave money to someone who claimed to be a record producer, only to be duped. White joined the U.S. Army in 1996 and served for 10 years, eventually retiring while at Fort Knox.
White moved to Hardin County in 2004 and almost immediately joined his current church, Powerhouse of Praise & Deliverance. White officially became the church’s youth minister last year and has worked with youth since he joined.
When approaching youth ministry, White said he tries to relate to the children he serves. This philosophy will manifest into the church’s upcoming Holy Hip Hop Sunday program.
“I’m trying to reach them where they are,” White said. “Each child comes from a different background and no one is the same.”
While he has been singing with his church since joining, White said he didn’t consider pursuing a career in gospel music until 2016. He said this changed when he began talking with Rineyville-based Christian production company Hyly Favored Productions.
White released his first single “Jesus Set Me Free” through Hyly Favored in 2016. He then released two additional singles in 2017 and a debut album “My Story” in 2018.
Throughout the album’s eight songs, the music ranges from hip hop to hard rock to more traditional gospel stylings.
“My goal is to reach everyone,” White said. “My main focus was to tell my story, but in many different ways.”
White said when recording “My Story,” producer Danny Freeman usually would play him an instrumental and he would improvise lyrics and melodies until a fully formed song came together.
“He’ll put me in the booth, let the music play and hit record,” he said.
White said his next project, tentatively titled “Changed,” will be a slower, “worship-style” album. He said he hopes to release the album sometime next year.
White has been nominated for several Christian music awards since the release of his debut album and was presented with the 2018 Holy Hip Hop Artist of the Year award from the Music Love Awards.
Currently, he is nominated for the Holy Hip Hop Artist of the Year and Contemporary Artist of the Year awards from the S&M Gospel Indie Awards; Best Male Solo Artist, Artist of the Year, Holy Hip Hop Artist of the Year, Song of the Year and Video of the Year awards from the Showtime Entertainment Gospel Music Awards and the Contemporary Artist of the Year award from the Music Love Awards.
White has performed for church services, conferences and concerts in cities around the country, including Little Rock, Arkansas; Nashville, Tennessee; Mobile, Alabama; Las Vegas, Nevada; Gary, Indiana; St. Louis, Missouri; Atlanta, Georgia; and Champaign, Illinois.
Locally, White will perform Sept. 8 at Radcliff City Park and Sept. 28 at Hope Church in Radcliff.
White said his ultimate goal is to reach as many people as possible and spread the message of his music, hoping to one day travel overseas and “reach millions.”
“I want to touch someone and let them know that no matter what they’re going through, that it will be alright and to trust God,” he said.
To view White’s performance dates or purchase his music, go to theowhite.wix.com/theowhite. White’s music also is available on major streaming platforms.