Now in Phase 3 of his professional career, North Texas singer/songwriter Robby White is doing what he’s wanted to do all along — “It’s real country, with tinges of western swing and Texas music, and it’s the kind of music I’ve always wanted to make.”
White has teamed up with Texas country music longer-timer Ronny Spears and together, they are taking their fast-paced, stone-cold country show on the road.
White grew up in his native Van Alstyne, Texas, and, like so many do when they graduate high school, he got the blue blazes out of there after graduation. He traveled around the country a bit, getting a feel of the music across the U.S.A., and was in the south when the 9/11 attack on America made so many Americans re-evaluate their values. White was no exception, and knew almost immediately he would return home, still a young man but with a stronger dream to make memorable music.
Spears, during that time, was busy building his own career, and building it the point that he has played for one American president and shared stages with Texas greats Deryl Dodd, The Dixie Chicks, Robert Earl Keen, and huge numbers of more favorites.
Like White, Spears had his life-altering turning point, and that came from his idol, Ray Wylie Hubbard. They
were song-swapping together, the story goes, when Hubbard turned to him after he sang, and said “Quit playing copy songs.” Spears did quit, and turned the volume up on his songwriting talents.
Hubbard and the 9/11 event ended Phase 1 for both Spears and White.
Phase 2 had both artists writing more and more, and incorporating their lives into their music. They also developed their bands and their fan bases.
The two artists met by chance one night in White’s hometown. He and Texas singer Jerry Audley were to song swap at a new restaurant. In a 6-degrees-of-separation moment, Audley brought Spears with him, and quickly there was one more mic added to the diminutive stage. White said of that encounter, “It was organic the way it came down. He and I have a musical chemistry, hard to describe.”
Spears described the musical chemistry between them as, “It was instant brotherly love. I think our souls kind of went click right off the bat.”
They both continued their separate careers for a few more years, Spears and his band hitting the Texas stages with his two-fisted drinking songs and White building and traveling with his band, the Tejas Gringos.
Phase 2, for White, seemed to be coming to an end as described in one his songs, “A Texan’s Prayer.” A married man with two daughters to his credit, White wrote, while being threatened with an Oklahoma tornado on his way home from a gig, “Lord, don’t let me die in Oklahoma… I’m out here spending dollars chasing dimes.”
Phase 3 began for White when he told The Tejas Gringos he wanted to take a little time away from the road, and spend some of that time looking for ways to advance the music. The band moved to back another Texas singer/songwriter, Tom McElvain. White said, “This was real amicable, I love them and want them to win, but it got to the point that we wanted different things. Tom needed players and they need to play. And so everybody is doing what he wants to do.”
White and Spears connected again, and, with luck and hard work, the results will be an historical bridge between unashamed country and Texas music. Billing themselves as “White & Spears,” the duo is using Spears’ band, which White calls “seasoned pros,” and as of mid-September they had worked without a single rehearsal. It’s been moving that fast for them. The duo said they will be adding a fiddle and a steel soon, and there will be rehearsals.
White described Phase 3, “Now, I’m brave enough to make music for me. I’m doing exactly what I want to do. This is going to be fun, without all the trappings and the pressure. It was getting bigger, But I was losing control of it all, and I was feeling like, ‘Don’t I get a say in all this?’” He added this is why his heart is so excited, because it is unapologetically country. “Don’t ‘Red Dirt’ me,” he exclaimed.
Spears is equally as excited about Phase 3. “Actually, there wasn’t much to it, once we said, ‘Let’s do this together.’” They have begun writing together now. “We are starting to get ideas together, and we’ll throw them, like a piece of bologna, against the refrigerator. It it sticks, we’ll go with it.” He said that, so far, they’ve “got a pipeline full” of song ideas.
Spears said the band is excited, too, and some of those have been with him since their Frisco High School days. “The music Robby White does is Texas music, our vocals fall together, and it’s like we know each other like the backs of our hands.”
So what is Spears’ goal in five years? “To walk to the mailbox and capture me a check. I’ve been after this since I was a kid. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, a singer, a picker, whatever it takes. And yes, every song is for sell. Yes.”
White & Spears also plan to let somebody else handle the business. “That will handle you smooth down to a nub,” Spears said. “Our nubs would all be rubbed.”
White and Spears said it’s weird, but together they are better than either of them alone, they are two halves of a musical whole.
White asks, “Get your ears on, and get down for some stone-cold country music.”
And listen while listening, because most of the songs have stone-cold simple truths of life.