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White's 'not normal' life requires faith, prayer

Published: Thursday, June 23 2011 6:30 a.m. MDT

Brooke White, a Latter-day Saint singer from Mesa, Ariz., who gained fame on “American Idol” when she told former judge Simon Cowell that she had never watched an R-rated movie, is now well down the winding road of the music industry.

And it's a road she's had to navigate with faith and a music style that is less than conventional.

White will be in Utah this week speaking to aspiring musicians at the Soundcheck Series in Salt Lake City, followed by a concert in Provo the next day. She's kicking off a tour with pop rock artist Jack Matranga, with whom she recently recorded an EP called "Gemini." Future tour stops include Rexburg, Idaho, and Lake Forest, Calif.

White admits to having “a lot of issues with confidence” in the past, but success has followed her appearance on “American Idol.” Since her top-five finish in 2008, White has also produced an album with 10-year “Idol” judge Randy Jackson. The single “Hold Up My Heart" rose as high as No. 47 on the Billboard Hot 100.

This Mormon has found the music industry to be far from black and white.

"Sometimes, there’s certain things you know you do and don’t do,” White said. “In this industry, there’s situations that are not clear, where you don’t know what route to take. There are situations that are not defined in a handbook or pamphlet; it’s not like I can just Google what I should do. It takes fine-tuned spirituality to know those answers."

Whether that’s having prayed in bathroom stalls during “Idol” or on the back of buses on road trips — scripture study and meditation come, no matter what, in the morning — improvising has been part of White’s life ever since she became a hot commodity.

“I always try to make right choices based on the principles and commandments given,” said White, who has been married for seven years. “But so much more, everything has to be tailored so much as individuals and keeping an open thought process and conversation in my prayers. I must think out of the box because this is not a normal life.”

It was as a teenager when White, after listening to the Beach Boys and the Beatles continually with her family, understood that her craft could best be fostered in the very time period she was taking herself to through her parents’ records. With a bit of country flavor thrown into the mix, White says it’s never been easy to categorize her style.

“I’ve always had a little bit of trouble living in a box,” she said. “We live in a day and age where people put you into a category, but I’m like a pop flurry of circumstance. I call it California country, where you had those times where the music was very melodic, very earthy, an Americana flair. But I have country-from-Arizona stuff that’s an influence. It’s all infused. At the end of the day, it’s not country, rock. It’s music."

White will perform June 24 at the Tahitian Noni International Ampitheatre, 333 Riverpark Way in Provo, from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $10 for tandem general admission and $7 for single tickets.

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