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Bob White Music still singing after 30 years
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It's been an award-winning 30-year music career for Thomas B. Vaughn at Bob White Music.
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Jacky Jack White writes songs with meaning but he says you must have a catchy tune or you're writing poetry.

If you don’t have a catchy beat, you’re just writing poetry.

Those are words of wisdom from Jacky Jack White, who founded Bob White Music with local resident Thomas B. Vaughn 30 years ago this month.

“You go for lyrics that are meaningful, but if you don’t have a beat, you don’t have anything,” said White during a Friday afternoon interview. “The best way for me to write a song is to start with a line or a hook. I like to sing them out or hum them. If you can’t hum it, then it’s not a song. It’s a poem.”

White has deep ties to Warren County, having preached here at Westwood in the mid-1980s. It was also here where he hammered out details of a partnership with Vaughn to form Bob White Music.

“We met at Billy’s Restaurant back when it was in Newtown,” said Vaughn. “He wasn’t getting any attention and I wasn’t either. We decided we needed to form our own publishing company then we realized we didn’t know how to do that. When we finally got Bob White Music going, we were all hat and no cattle for a while.”

Their first big song was “Mountains on the Moon” which appeared on the second album for Neal McCoy.

“It had been a year since I had any of my songs cut and I was getting discouraged,” said White. “Then I heard Neal McCoy with Atlantic Records wanted to cut one of my songs and he ended up using it on four different albums and he ended every show with it.”

That song would serve as a launching pad. In 1993, Steve Wariner recorded one of their songs called “If I Didn’t Love You” which climbed to No. 7 on the Billboard chart.

Charlie Pride reached No. 1 with a Bob White Music hit called “For Today.”

Vaughn says they embrace all musical genres and have been as active lately as they’ve ever been. He remembers a three-song project with J.D. Fortune, who had been the lead singer for INXS. They tried to rebrand him as a country singer with somewhat favorable results.

“J.D. nailed the songs and we had an A list of players,” said White.

A longtime guitarist, White says one of his greatest memories came after a show in Warren County at Pish-La-Ki atop Harrison Ferry Mountain. He said he was approached by a sheepish boy, 10 perhaps, after the show. 

White said the boy wanted to know if he wrote the song “When Men Pray.” When he told him he did, the boy was elated.

“He told me he loved that song and he sings it at church,” said White. “To hear that coming from a boy, that’s meant as much to me as anything.”

Vaughn and White say they’ve written songs together over the phone. And they say their business relationship has worked despite the fact people warned them not to go in business as friends.

White says he’s always been drawn to music because every song is like a human interest story. He said he works so well together with Vaughn because he’s a great editor.

“It’s like a comedian delivering a joke. Sometimes just a minor change can make a huge difference,” said White.

As for current projects, Vaughn is working on a song with Jim McBride, who may be best known for co-writing “Way Down Yonder on the Chattahoochee” with Alan Jackson.

Vaughn said song is called “Live Till You Die.”

“It’s a story song about a 90-year-old man,” said Vaughn. “We’re going to pitch it to Alan Jackson when we’re done and considering Jim’s history with Alan Jackson, I think we have a good shot.”