In Loving Memory of
(1965 - 2018)
The Lari White-Cannon Scholarship
A Stepping Stone to the Performing Arts
The Johnny Mercer Foundation is pleased to announce a gift of $5,000 to the
Lari White-Cannon Scholarship Fund in honor of Master Teacher Lari White-Cannon. Established in 2018, the Scholarship will be awarded to a student graduating from Lari's high school alma mater, Dunedin High School in Florida, who has a non-weighted
GPA of 3.85 and has chosen a field of study in the performing arts.
The scholarship aims to help and empower students who have demonstrated academic excellence and want to actively pursue a career in the arts.
If you would like to contribute to the scholarship fund, please contact:
The Pinellas Community Foundation
5200 East Bay Drive, Suite 202
Clearwater, FL 33764
"Last year, a synchronistic magic led us to co-headline a little festival in Manitowoc, WI. We both cherished the opportunity to be with one another, and this photo is from the morning after our show. Watching her perform (solo) with such enthusiasm, and connection to source was inspiring beyond belief. Then, over breakfast as we sat in the lawn together at our host's home, once again, Lari listened to me. She heard me as I shared my vision for creating art in the world, what I saw myself doing, and who I see myself being. She so fully saw and heard me that day that she offered to help in the process. She invited me to her home, the holler, a place I had visited many times before. We took out our phones and searched our calendars. We found a day in early September of last year that we would be able to 'hang' in her holler and write together. Well, that day came, and it was such a blessing. We spent it drinking tea, taking walks down her long driveway and sharing our stories of life, and ideas for songs. At the end of the day, Lari went to her piano and started emoting (instrumentally). She was playing from the deepest part of her soul. I sat outside the door to the piano room with a pen in hand, and wrote lyrics to the music she was playing. Eventually, I went and sat beside her and began to sing them. She then filled in the gaps and together we wrote 'Neither One Of Us Is Wrong.' It was the last time I saw her, and yet again, she showed me, through beautiful grace and example, what it is to be an artist."
- Phoebe Hunt, 2010
"She was an integral part of me being the first Hip Hop artist to attend. Immediately upon meeting Lari she looked me in my eyes and said "You are here to educate these people on why you make the most important music in the world. Fly high!" Being surrounded by some of the best and most accomplished writers and musicians in the world was a bit intimidating for me at first. I'm not a great musician. I didn't go to music school so my theoretical knowledge is limited at best. I simply know what feels good to me. Lari helped me understand this better and take more ownership over the FACT that if it feels good, it is good. While all of these people are insanely talented, Lari stood out to me because of how she framed what I do. Most people in that world don't give Hip Hop a lot of credence. A few people there even referred to it as "noise". Lari was always quick to correct them with "Universe-shattering, game-changing noise!" This empowered me in many ways.
I wanted to put together this collage to let her know that she's impacted the world for the better. That through her music and words, she has helped and inspired countless people to keep believing, to keep fighting, and to keep creating.
I posted on my social media about the role she had played in my development as a songwriter and asked that people send positive energy in to us so that we could pass it along to her...These notes came in many different languages from all over the world...This collage is my way - is our way of saying "Thank You!" to a woman who has opened so many doors in this business she deserves her own statue. Thank you Lari for helping me see that what I do is both important and needed. Thank you to everyone who contributed. Your kind gesture has made a music legend smile on her hospital bed. And made the stars smile on you."
- ASHES the CHOSEN (John Anthony Shahor), 2014
- Benjamin Scheuer, 2010
"Lari challenged me to write about what scared me. To dive into the heart of the matter with courage and love, and trust that there, in that place of fear and uncertainty, is the song I should write. It may have been the single best piece of advice I've ever been given about writing songs. It has taught me that I can turn my fear into beauty, that I can find strength and power in the unknown and the unknowable, and that I can give others beauty and strength through a song. Thank you for your song, Lari. We will all keep singing it in our songs."
- Diana Lawrence, 2010
"The summer of 2015 at Northwestern University we met Lari, one evening there was a tornado warning/watching. We wrote a fragment of a song. We didn’t know if it would be good or not. The entire week we went to Lari with this song and she gave us soul, time, and her energy. She pushed us to be better songwriters. Miigwetch/Khobkhun Ka for everything Lari. We will miss you.
- Ty Defoe & Tidtaya Sinutoke, 2015
"While at the Mercer Project in June 2008, I took Lari and Andrew to see my wife, Lisa Brescia and Annaleigh Ashford play the 2 witches in "Wicked" at the Oriental Theater in Chicago. We were driven from Evanston and back, in an ostentatious, white, stretch-stretch limo. We laughed uproariously about what Andrew called "our pimp-mobile". And yet we enjoyed the bizarre luxury of the ride. We went backstage to visit Lisa and Annaleigh, and were in Rondi Reid's dressing room, looking at her recently received Tony Award ("August, Osage County") when this photo was snapped. We were then driven back to Evanston. In the car, we talked about the show we had just seen, how we each would like to win a Tony Award someday, and about life. We always talked about life. These 3 people loved each other. And I rarely have laughed harder, or talked deeper talk than with this trio. Lari,Lari,Lari, we miss you.
Odd, because you're still here."
- Craig Carnelia, Master Teacher
"Lari was an incredible mentor and quick friend to me during my time at Mercer and then again two years later when I moved to Nashville. I remember during the first small group lesson with her, I played a new song I had been working on. Lari was not afraid to be completely honest with me. She challenged me to rewrite some of the lyrics. She said "don't shy away from writing how you really feel about this." At the time, I felt a little defensive about the advice, but I took it seriously and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening rewriting. I trusted Lari's opinion. I came back the next day, and I had really come up with something beautiful. Lari just smiled when I played it. She had a way of subtly pushing her students to strive for better and did it with lightness and joy the whole time. She was a beloved member of the Nashville community and was always open to helping young writers. She will be missed."
- Jess Nolan, 2014
Lari White & Jonny May
"It was so special to work with her back in the 2009 Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project and she really shaped my music. One very special memory...for the final performance at the end of the week, each of the master teachers (Lari, Lin Manuel Miranda, and Craig Carnelia) performed a song, and Lari asked me to accompany her on the piano for Come Rain or Come Shine. She lit the house up! I still have a video from that night, and it was so special for me...What a magical voice, and so special to allow me as one of the students to accompany her. "
- Jonny May, 2009
"I hadn't seriously considered moving to Nashville because I wasn't writing commercial country, but Lari convinced me there was a community for me there, and I made the move, with her encouragement, less than a year after meeting her. Just after moving, I went to see her play the Bluebird, and when she spotted me in the audience, she told the crowd I was a great writer and invited me to play a song during her round.
Once I was in Nashville (and Lari was right about the move—it has changed my life and writing in the best ways), Lari and I talked periodically. She believed so much in my Iraq veterans project—which meant the world given her incredible experience and the length of time it was taking me to finish.
When the album was done, she asked me for a whole box of them so she could pass them out to everyone she saw in the music industry over the following weeks. I thanked her profusely for that, and she said I didn't need to because it was going to make her look cool. That was Lari. An enthusiastic mentor who shared her time and influence with amazing generosity. I'm forever grateful for her presence in my life. I feel so lucky to have known and learned from someone with such boundless talent and unfailing kindness."
- Becky Warren, 2012
"It's strange and wonderful, how people can change your entire outlook in a matter of a few days; How they can open your eyes to sides of yourself you didn't know were there, to your own roadblocks and your potential beyond it, in just a few brief interactions. This summer, in a week's time, Lari did just that for me. She helped me to build a new toolbox to connect with others through the art of song, and to believe in my own potential as a songwriter; and more importantly, she helped me to feel at home with who I am as an artist and a human being. She encouraged me to find the courage to unleash my creative spirit and express my truth; to live my life with an authenticity that I never knew I could. I have boundless gratitude for the way Lari inspired me to dig deeper than I ever dared, to come to know my own heart, to face my fears, and to rise to the occasion; and I've no doubt that she's impacted countless others in the same way. I am so grateful to have crossed paths with this beautiful soul. Thank you, Lari, for all the light that you've brought to this world."
- Kala Farnham, 2017
"We had the honor of working with Lari at the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Workshop a few years ago. Teachers like Lari are a rare find: she was so kind with us but also direct, clear but always constructive. Lari seemed to really understand us and everyone she taught. We wrote several songs that week that are still some of our favorites, one of which is present in our full length musical that just received its first full production and North Carolina State University. Lari’s presence will always be felt in that work. She didn't only shape us as writers, but also as collaborators, teaching us constructive ways to listen and respond to people’s work. A truly great artist and person, she will be greatly missed, and we extend our deepest condolences to
her family at this time. With love—"
- Matt Deitchman & Jed Feder, 2013
"I decided to listen to Lari's version of POWER IN THE BLOOD right after hearing of her passing. I had heard it before but was now hearing it with different ears. I was always so drawn to wanting to spend more time with her. She had the most amazing qualities about her. Sharp and gentle. Beautiful and focused. Warm and supportive. Strong and aware. Truly will be missed by many."
- David Dabbon, 2011
"I think she gave me the absolute best songwriting advice I have ever been given, and I think about it EVERY TIME I SIT DOWN TO WRITE: The best songs are the ones that say what you reeeeeally don't want to say. She singlehandedly changed my identity as a writer, and helped me become a more honest artist and person with that advice. I am thankful to her every day. I am thankful to her for pointing out the absolute beauty in and rarity of true honesty. What an incredible gift from an incredible woman."
- Lauren Marcus, 2014
"Joe (Kinosian) and I were lucky enough to meet and learn from Lari at Johnny Mercer in 2010. We decided we wanted to share some of our 'non-musical theatre work' with her. Afterwards, Lari, in the gentlest way possible, informed us that our 'non-musical theatre' work was in fact... musical theatre work. More than any teacher we'd ever had before, Lari inspired us to stretch ourselves and do away with preconceived boundaries in terms of what we were capable of writing. Lari also prompted us to write what remains one of my favorite songs we've written (a country ballad called "You're Mine Until"). Throughout the week, while everyone else was racing around writing and getting ready for various presentations, I will always distinctly remember Lari, a constantly warm and calming presence, looking beyond the anxiety and the logistics, and seeing us - and caring about us - as human beings. Thank you for the music, Lari. You will be so missed."
- Kellen Blair, 2010
"I remember Lari as so incredibly encouraging and funny and candid. Just a great person to be in the room with. I remember her casually harmonizing with so many of our songs that summer- adding her sparkle, making them suddenly real. It was an incredible gift. I feel lucky to have known her, however briefly."
- Phoebe Kreutz, 2008
"I'm sure I speak for so many people that the biggest thing we all felt from her was love and giving. Lari was one of the biggest givers I've ever met. She had a squint in her eye when she looked at you that made you feel seen and heard. She looked deeply into people, and patiently. Her responses were never auto-pilot phrases we all lean on during social interaction. She was so present and was always responding rather than reacting. Though she was a phenomenal songwriting mentor, I think these qualities are far more important to learn from. Lari is an angel among us all. Always has been and always will be."
- Mike Aljadeff, 2014
"Lari was an integral part of the week that changed my life. During the time I spent in her company and in the company of other artists at the Mercer Project, she led our small group to a place of unbelievable vulnerability, connection, and honesty that we could never replicate on our own if we tried. And yet, following her guiding light made it easy to get there. Lari was generous, compassionate, smart, and a brilliant teacher. She never tried to tell us what to do, or how to do it, but through her wisdom and example we were able to discover both for ourselves. Last month I finished a lyric that made me shiver: I didn't understand why, until I realized that Lari's advice had snuck right in without me realizing it. I had written something that I 'didn't want to know about myself,' and I felt the difference. The difference was Lari."
- Andrea Daly, 2012
"Lari believed in you. And not in some tired, manufactured way. She really, actually believed that you could do whatever great thing you dreamed of doing. Which allowed you to believe it too. This is what Lari looked like when you played her a song. She listened with wildly uncommon amounts of care and attention and wonder and joy. Like anyone fortunate enough to have had that experience, I will never forget it. And I will never forget Lari."
- Mike Mentz, 2008
"Lari encouraged me in a way no one had before. There is truly a "before" and "after" Lari, and it's remarkable how many people feel that way. She invited me into her home, into her studio, into her family for a few precious days, and in that time I saw so much of what I hope to cultivate in my own life. Just being near her was a lesson. What a beautiful soul, who shared her light and wisdom with so many. She was an inspiration, and the candle of her beautiful spirit will always shine brightly in my heart."
- Heather Robb, 2013