Dee White is catching a lot of ears with his just-released debut album Southern Gentleman, co-produced by Dan Auerbach for his Warner Music Nashville-distributed Easy Eye Sound label. But the solo performance video for the track “Crazy Man,” premiering exclusively below, provides a sense of where the 20-year-old, Alabama-born prodigy started.
“I originally found that [song] in a sports bar in Branson, Mo.,” White says of the track, which was co-written by Ann Morton, the sister of the man White heard performing the song, with Petty White and Jim Mundy. “It was a slow ballad down in E major, and the guy had a good, low country voice. I just fell in love with it. Dan had the idea to put it up in G; I wasn’t sure I could sing it up there like that, but Dan pushed me to leave it out there, and we picked up the tempo some and it really worked out well.”
“Crazy Man,” which White demoed while studying at Auburn University, is one of the songs he brought with him to Nashville, where Southern Gentleman‘s other co-producer, David “Fergie” Ferguson, was hooked and introduced him to Auerbach. “I hadn’t heard of him and actually only knew him as a producer at first,” White says of the member of The Black Keys. “I sent [Auerbach] some songs that same week, and before I knew it, I was writing with him and people he brought in, and not long after that we were tracking.”
Those auspicious circumstances are made all the more so by Southern Gentleman‘s guests, including Alison Krauss on four songs and Ashley McBryde, with whom he shares management (Q Prime). “I was a huge fan of Alison, so it kind of surprised me, her coming in,” White recalls. “I won’t ever forget just seeing her in there. That perfection in person is really something, and I got to take it all in, which is awesome.” White co-wrote four of the album’s 10 tracks and “Ol’ Muddy River” by himself, while Auerbach had his hand in six.
With Southern Gentleman out, White’s emphasis now is touring. He makes his Grand Ole Opry debut on March 8 with more dates to come. Meanwhile, he’s anxious to get back in the writing room and start work on whatever’s next. “I want to collaborate with a lot of people,” he says. “I like that Willie Nelson has done that. He seems to have worked with everybody, and I like working with people. This just feels like kind of the official start to everything, and we’ll go from here.”