Category Arts & Entertainment

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! January 2023

ANNIVERSARY!

Earth, Wind and Fire Drummer Fred White Dead at 67: ‘Drumming with the Angels’

Earth, Wind and Fire's Fred White
Earth, Wind and Fire's Fred White
PHOTO: ROB VERHORST/REDFERNS

By Charmaine Patterson

Earth, Wind and Fire‘s Fred White has died at the age of 67.

Fred’s brother and fellow group member, bass guitarist Verdine White, announced the loss on Instagram Sunday.

His cause of death has not been made public.

“Dearest Family Friends and Fans…..Our family is saddened today With the loss of an amazing and talented family member, Our beloved brother Frederick Eugene “Freddie” White.🙏🏾🙏🏾💔💔🥁🥁,” Verdine wrote alongside images of Fred playing the drums and posing with the 6-time Grammy-winning group.

Verdine referenced EWF star Maurice White and lead vocalist Roland Bautista, who died in 2016 and 2012 respectively, along with former manager Monte Keith White, who died in 2020, and wrote that Fred now “joins our brothers Maurice, Monte and Ronald in heaven and is now drumming with the angels! 🥁🥁”

Verdine went on to salute the late drummer as a “Child protégé, member of the EWF ORIGINAL 9, with gold records at the young age of 16 years old! He was brother number 4 in the family lineup. ❤️❤️❤️❤️”

Reflecting on Fred’s personal life, Verdine said that “at home and beyond he was the wonderful bro that was always entertaining and delightfully mischievous! And we could always count on him to make a seemingly bad situation more light hearted!🙏🏾😍🙏🏾”

Fried White
AFRO AMERICAN NEWSPAPERS/GADO/GETTY IMAGES

“He will live in our hearts forever, rest in power beloved Freddie!!” wrote Verdine, adding, “We thank you all for your love, blessings and support at this time. Soar high baby bro, we love you to the shining ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️and back! 🙏🏾🕊️🙏🏾🕊️🙏🏾🕊️🙏🏾 🌈🌈🌈🌈🌈”

In the comment section, Fred was remembered by his fellow musicians and artists.

Lenny Kravitz wrote, “Sending my love and deepest condolences to you and the family. I was blessed to have been in his presence and blessed to have been influenced by him. A true king. Rest in power.”

Actor Dule Hill also commented, “🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 Sending love you brother”

Earth, Wind and Fire remembered Fred on its official Instagram page with solo performance during the group’s stop in Essen, Germany, for its world tour in 1979.

Famed drummer Sheila E paid tribute on her own Instagram with a photo of the group, praising Fred in the caption.

“He was a mentor, an amazing drummer, and a man who had the biggest heart,” she said. “To be able to stand next to him and watch his technique and listen to his playing was remarkable! I will never forget it.”

Added Sheila E: “A true icon who will be missed. Uncle, u will be extremely missed. Thank u for Sharing with me ur gift. I love u. We shall celebrate you!!! 💕🙏🏽”

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In a lengthy post, Questlove shared some of Fred’s greatest moments over the years, and credited him as the one “who was the spark that inspired me to drum”, adding in part, “The live shows of Earth Wind & Fire were super epic because (along w Pfunk) they were the first out the gate to introduce theatrics & magic for black concerts levitating & laser & explosions n’ whatnot. His elevation to stage level from the ground WAS epic for 81 trust me on this. So epic.”

Fred’s decades-long career began when he was still in high school as he hit the stage with Donny Hathaway, and became a member of Earth, Wind and Fire when he was a teenager, according to Pitchfork.

Before exiting the group in the 1980s, he served as the drummer for the group’s international hits like “Shining Star”, which reached No. 1 on the coveted Billboard Hot 100 list. He reunited with Earth, Wind and Fire when it was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, the outlet added.

Join us to talk about how arts groups can better support women leaders of color

Vicki Meek
Vicki Meek
Vicki Meek managed the South Dallas Cultural Center for almost 20 years and was the board chair of the National Performance Network for two years. Nan Coulter / The Dallas Morning News

KERA
By Elizabeth Myong
Arts Access

The panel will be hosted by Arts Access, a partnership between KERA and The Dallas Morning News.

Explore more stories from Arts Access.

Last week, we published a story about how women leaders of color are leaving arts groups because of a lack of support. After speaking with six women of color who are leaders in the arts across the country, I came away with one common theme: retaining these leaders requires real systemic change.

We’ll discuss how arts groups can lead this change during a panel event Jan. 18 at 6 p.m. in the Dallas Morning News Auditorium. I’ll be talking with three North Texas leaders of color in the arts: Kathleen Culebro with Amphibian Theatre, Caroline Kim with the Crow Museum and Vicki Meek, who ran the South Dallas Cultural Center for almost 20 years.

Our discussion will cover six solutions presented in the story about how arts groups can help women leaders of color both stay and thrive. They are:

  • Change starts with the board.
  • Welcome women leaders of color into the group.
  • Allow them to build their teams.
  • Let them lead inclusively.
  • Listen and embrace discomfort.
  • Prioritize the well-being of these leaders.

This isn’t the first time these solutions have been proposed. There’s been a lot of discussion on the topic, but not enough action, according to the women I spoke to for the story. It’s important to continue talking about possible solutions and reflect on what still needs to be done, these leaders say.
Yvette Loynaz, director of artistic administration at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, said it can feel like there’s a fading window of opportunity to talk about issues of inclusion and diversity in the arts.

But there are many people who are working to continue these conversations, she said. Loynaz has heard this moment being compared to holding open an elevator. “Like two doors that are wanting to close but there are several hands holding it open,” she said.

Many arts groups are trying to reach new communities and are diversifying programs and performers. To do so effectively, women leaders of color say, it’s essential for organizations to support new leaders from diverse communities.

We understand this conversation won’t solve these problems overnight. But we at Arts Access, a partnership between The Dallas Morning News and KERA, will continue covering efforts to diversify arts leadership.

Interested in coming to the panel discussion? You can RSVP here.

“How arts organizations can support leaders of color,” Jan. 18 at 6 p.m., The Dallas Morning News Auditorium, 1954 Commerce St. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. Light refreshments will also be served.

Arts Access is a partnership between The Dallas Morning News and KERA that expands local arts, music and culture coverage through the lens of access and equity.

This community-funded journalism initiative is funded by the Better Together Fund, Carol & Don Glendenning, City of Dallas OAC, Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation, Eugene McDermott Foundation, James & Gayle Halperin Foundation, Jennifer & Peter Altabef and The Meadows Foundation. The News and KERA retain full editorial control of Arts Access’ journalism.

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