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Platinum-selling recording artist for first two albums, Bryan White and The Right Place; third project went gold, Between Now & Forever
Awards: CMT's Horizon Award, CMT's Rising Star and Male Video Artist of the Year; ACM's Top New Male Vocalist, SRO Touring Artist of the Year
Media: Tonight Show, Late Show with David Letterman, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee,
Magazines: One of People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World", Teen Country, Tiger Beat
By the time he released his third album, Bryan was a bona fide country sensation. He had paid his dues as a teenage drummer in his parents' bands and emerged from obscurity in the mid-'90s with a string of four No.1 singles, including "Someone Else's Star" and "Rebecca Lynn."
Just 20-years-old at the time, Bryan quickly earned fans from across the demographic spectrum, but it was among the young people that he became an instant star in a way few country stars have. He is credited with doing something few country singers ever have - creating a huge teen following. Teens flocked to his performances. They often listened from parking lots when they were unable to gain access to his shows at 21-and-over clubs, so Bryan threw open his sound-checks and set up alcohol-free afternoon shows.
The media noted the true hysteria that consistently greeted such performances, and Bryan was soon the subject of major profiles in fan magazines like Teen, Tiger Beat, and 16. The latter launched a new magazine called Teen Country, and their first issue was devoted exclusively to him. He was named one of the Top 20 coolest bachelors on E! Entertainment Television, appearing on all the major shows such as Letterman and CBS This Morning. Much of the influx of young fans and youth-oriented media to country music during the mid-'90s can be credited to Bryan.
Bryan also proved he was a young man of depth and substance. Following the terrorist bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in his hometown of Oklahoma City, he set out to raise funds and awareness. Bryan reached out, using his rising fortunes to benefit the lives of others. He held benefit concerts to help the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund reach its $11 million goal. He turned his first Nashville concert into a benefit that raised more than $75,000 for scholarships for children injured in the blast. He later helped fund the on-site memorial, receiving a special Humanitarian Award from FEEA for his efforts. He has since worked to aid a host of causes, and has received the 1997 Entertainment Radio Networks' Humanitarian Award.
Such affirmation early in his life tested Bryan, but he can now say that his life has changed forever. Bryan was raised in a "Christian" home, but says, "I never grasped the true meaning of church and spiritual family. As a result, I had no impression of the divine power that Christ possesses."
Immediately after high school, he moved from Oklahoma to Nashville to pursue a music career. Unlike most artists, success came very fast and in great measure. "It was a lot for an insecure and irresponsible 18-year-old to handle and was very overwhelming," he says.
As a result, he says his identity was formed by the music industry rather than through the Word of God. His life hinged on the success of his career, his No. 1 records, his awards, his tour with Vince Gill, his tour with LeAnn Rimes, and duets with Shania Twain and many others. "I let my career and voice define who I was," he says.
But like Jesus says in Matthew 7:24-27, it all came crashing down. In the midst of success, Brian explains, "Because of my many prideful decisions, it all started to wane. Because I had no proper foundation, I let what people said affect me very deeply as well. I began to second-guess my work and talent. I began to plummet into a deep depression and became a recluse. All confidence in my voice was lost."
Bryan began considering a way out. Many thoughts and options began to cross his mind. "Finally, in my depression, as a last resort, I began to seek Jesus Christ," Bryan says. "When I called on Him, He met me in such a powerful way. He freed me from depression and the power of sin and gave me new life."
Bryan says the scales were pulled from his eyes and he received total illumination of how much Christ loved him. "Because He lives in me, I am a completely transformed human being!" he says.
God has since placed Bryan in a church family to teach and encourage him in the way of the Lord. Now his vision is to see that very same Power reach his peers, the music industry, and the youth of the world. Bryan says he wouldn't change anything about his life because without this awakening, "there's no telling where I would be. I am so grateful to know the One and Only God of the universe." He thanks his fans and those who stood with him, and says he desires that they would get to know the One True God, too.
Peaceful Family Time
Bryan says his new song, "The Little Things," is dedicated to his beautiful wife, Erika, who formerly acted on the daytime show One Life to Live. He also says his family is something he never tires of talking about. They have a 9-month-old son, Justin, and enjoy very much just having time together at home. Bryan and Erika met in 1997 at a benefit in Los Angeles and will be married four years this October.
After his meteoric rise in country music, things changed. Bryan says he believes God allowed the rug to be pulled out from under his success -- and for good reason. Though he grew up going to church and being part of church events, and youth groups, he was never discipled in the faith. "There was no discipleship," he says. "I really didn't know about repentance, forgiveness, and other tenets of the faith." Bryan says it took him getting to a low point in his life and career before he really turned to the Lord. It took his pride getting hurt. But today he is thankful for it. "A lot of us have to get to that point of vulnerability before we turn," he says. In earlier days, Bryan says he didn't realize how big a responsibility being in the public eye is. But now he does.
Right now he says that he is at a point of transition and is grateful for it. He is writing music and doing more songs. This period allows him the time to focus on his music, and he wants to produce music that makes people realize that there is more to life - that there is a serious side to life. The new music will speak for itself. At this point, he doesn't know when the public will get to hear the new music, but keep listening!
Erika has turned down acting offers, and both are concentrating on their family life. "We are excited for this peaceful time," Bryan says. When their lives went in every direction, Bryan says they prayed for a more normal functioning home life. If the time comes when they can go out and travel together, they would be happy about that. But right now they love being home.
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