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Barry White, the Iconic R&B Crooner with the Velvety Bass Voice

Full Name Barry Eugene Carter
Birthday September 12, 1944
Birth Place Galveston, Texas, U.S.
Death Date July 4, 2003
Genre Soul, R&B, Funk, Disco
Social Media Instagram, Facebook

Barry Eugene Carter, better known by his stage name Barry White, was an American singer and songwriter. With his deep, velvety bass voice and sensual soulful music, White became one of the best-selling artists of all time. Often referred to as "The Maestro", he pioneered the smooth soul and lush disco sounds of the 1970s.

Early Life

Barry White was born on September 12, 1944 in Galveston, Texas but grew up in South Central Los Angeles. As a child, he sang in his church choir where his voice stood out for its depth even then. At age 16, Barry joined his first musical group – The Upfronts – as a singer.

He worked as a session player for various independent labels in the 1960s, honing his production skills. Barry also did backup vocals and wrote songs for other artists before launching his solo career in the early 1970s.

Musical Career

White‘s first solo album “I‘ve Got So Much to Give” was released in 1973 on the 20th Century label. The title track became his breakthrough hit.

His career hit monumental heights with the 1974 single “Can‘t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" which topped the Billboard Hot 100 and became the first disco single to reach #1. The album "Can‘t Get Enough" sold over 3 million copies.

Over the next few years, Barry churned out more hit soul singles like “You‘re the First, the Last, My Everything", "What Am I Gonna Do with You", “I‘ll Do for You Anything You Want Me To". His lush string arrangements and rumbling bass vocals made him one of soul music‘s biggest stars.

In the late 1970s, as disco declined, Barry adapted to the changing times, incorporating more electronic sounds. He continued charting with singles like “Your Sweetness is My Weakness” and “Change”.

Though his commercial success waned in the 1980s, he continued releasing music sporadically. A revival of interest in the 90s/2000s led to several reissues and compilations being released.

Personal Life

Barry White married his wife Glodean James in 1974. They had four children together – Barry Jr., Kevin, Keith and Shaherah. The marriage ended in divorce in 1988 after allegations of domestic abuse.

In 1989, Barry married wife Mary Lee, with whom he had a son – Nathaniel. This marriage also ended in divorce in 2000.

Later Career and Health Issues

In the 2000s, Barry White‘s health steadily declined. He suffered from high blood pressure leading to kidney failure. In May 2003, he was hospitalized after having a stroke while undergoing dialysis treatment.

Despite poor health, Barry gave his final live performance on September 20, 2003 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. He passed away three months later on July 4, 2003 at the age of 58. The cause of death was kidney failure exacerbated by liver disease.

Musical Style and Legacy

  • Vocals – Barry White had a deep, velvety bass voice spanning 3 octaves. His smooth baritone crooning was central to his seductive appeal.
  • Lyrics – White sang mainly about love, romance and seduction. His candid sensual lyrics were delivered with heartfelt emotion.
  • Arrangements – White crafted intricately arranged "soul symphonies" with lush strings, funky basslines and passionate vocals. His attention to detail was unparalleled.
  • Influence – He inspired later artists like Boyz II Men, Mariah Carey and Simply Red. Many hip-hop artists have extensively sampled his songs.
  • Legacy – White pioneered a slick, glossy orchestral soul sound that was the epitome of 1970s LA cool. His music remains iconic of the disco/funk era.


  • 1960s – Worked as session player, backup singer, songwriter behind the scenes.
  • 1973 – Released first solo album “I‘ve Got So Much to Give”. Title track became his first hit.
  • 1974 – "Can‘t Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" became his first #1 single and the first disco #1.
  • 1970s – Peak popularity period, churning out multiple hit soul singles. Founded his own record label.
  • 1980s – Commercial success declined though he continued releasing music sporadically.
  • 1990s – Underwent revival after being extensively sampled in hip-hop/R&B.
  • 2000s – Saw a resurgence of interest in his music. Gave his last performance in 2003 before passing away.

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