Singer and Actress Lari White Dies of Cancer at 52

Singer and actress Lari White died of cancer Tuesday (Jan. 23) in hospice in Nashville at the age of 52. White announced in November that she had been diagnosed with the disease.

Born May 13, 1965 in Dunedin, Florida, White performed around Florida during her teen years and moved to Nashville when she was 23. That same year she won the You Can Be a Star talent contest on The Nashville Network.

While writing songs and searching for a record deal, White also in 1992 began singing backup for Rodney Crowell. In 1993, she signed to RCA Records and charted her first single, “What a Woman Wants.” Co-written by White and Chuck Cannon, whom she would marry in 1994, the song peaked at No. 44.

White’s first album for RCA, Lead Me Not, was also released in 1993 and yielded two more chart singles, neither of which cracked the Top 30.

“That’s My Baby,” the first single from White’s 1994 RCA collection, Wishes, went to No. 10 and helped propel the album to gold status. The follow-up single, “Now I Know,” rose to No. 5 and would become White’s highest-charting song.
Over the next five years, White charted seven more singles, one that went No. 10 and four that hit the Top 20s. Her 1997 duet with Travis Tritt — “Helping Me Get Over You” — appeared on Warner Bros. Records and reached No. 18.

“Lari was such a joy to work with when I was at RCA Records,” says publicist Erin Morris Huttlinger. “She was smart, strong and talented–and her smile was just radiant. That radiance showed through in all her work.”

In 1997, White signed to Lyric Street Records but failed to score singles any higher than No. 18. Of her 12 charted singles, she wrote or co-wrote six.

White’s first role as a professional actress was that of the housekeeper in the 1988 horror flick, The Unholy. She subsequently appeared in the country-music themed TV movie XXX’s & OOO’s (1994), with Tom Hanks in Cast Away (2000) and with Gwyneth Paltrow in Country Strong (2010).

White is survived by her husband, Chuck Cannon, daughters M’Kenzy and Kyra and son Jaxon.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.