Ten minutes into the interview, singer-songwriter Matt White put his grandmother Shirley Kesselman on the phone.Ten minutes into the interview, singer-songwriter Matt White put his grandmother Shirley Kesselman on the phone.
"Matt takes after me, he comes from a long line of musicians," Kesselman explains. "Each generation of this family has its own geniuses," she says
"Are you saying you think I might be a genius, grandma?" he asks.
"I think you are a genius."
"Oh wow, thanks."
It was a sweet and light-hearted moment, especially coming from a guy who clearly cares about his family's deep musical roots. Kesselman was a bandleader in the '30s and played violin and piano. Her family started a music school when she was young. A whole host of White's relatives are musicians.
White began playing piano when he was only three, he picked up the guitar when he was in college. Today, the 27-year-old New Jersey native is making a new entry in his family's storied musical history with the release of his debut full-length album, "Best Days."
The 11-track Geffen set bowed at No. 34 on the Top Heatseekers chart thanks, in part, to the popularity of White singles used on the big and little screen. His pop-rock tunes were included in TV shows like "One Tree Hill," "The Hills," and "What About Brian" and also in the films "Shrek 3" and "She's the Man." Look for another of his songs in a forthcoming Secret deodorant commercial.
"Hey, I like 'The Hills!" he laughs. "I guess I have a sound that connects with people."
White's current Heatseekers presence is the result of paying dues after graduating from the University of Wisconsin by moving to New York and busking and playing clubs in lower Manhattan. He often sat in with musicians in Washington Square Park in the Village as a "technically terrible" guitarist. It was during those informal sessions that he learned finer points about technique while developing the songs that became "Best Days." The tunes focus on "being young and discovering who I am after graduation," he explains. "It's romantic album, but goes beyond just being in relationships. It's covers a specific period in my life."
White's new adventures continue out on the road, where he'll be support of "Best Days" through the end of October.