Scott Sean White’s forthcoming debut album “Call It Even” was actually born in a 14’ x 10’ travel trailer in Kerrville, Texas, in the early 70’s, long before he ever sat down at a piano or picked up a guitar or sang a note. His songwriting voice, his stark transparency and raw honesty, were being shaped at the earliest age in a childhood, where as he puts it, “all the major adult figures in my life were either alcoholics or addicts… or both.” It was an out-of-control, always off balance upbringing full of domestic violence and seeing things he couldn’t un-see. One of the alcohol fueled fights between his mother and stepdad even saw a .22 rifle get emptied through the wall. That was his mother’s fourth husband. And the husband before that - Scott’s real dad - beat her so bad one time while she was pregnant with him - that she ended up in the hospital. It was just the way things were, and yet somehow, he survived.
As he emerged out of all that into his twenties, and began to sort through all the baggage and scars that came with it, music had become his life and livelihood. At first, the music part was funk, pop, R&B, and hip-hop. He was playing keyboards in bands and engineering at Dallas-area studios while producing tracks for other songwriters in almost every genre. There were some originals and a lot of covers in a pay-your-dues and pay-your-bills season of life. After all, he had a daughter at age 21, got married at 22, and he and his wife, Brenda, had another daughter a couple years later. But the stories Scott had boiling up inside of him couldn’t be told in those beat driven genres.
So by his mid-thirties, while writing a handful of country-leaning songs, he felt a tug to go to Nashville. He had a few friends up there but more importantly, he had something to say… and he wanted to learn how to say it. He describes his first trip up from Texas as “extremely intimidating AND inspiring at the same time.” The level of songwriting on the streets of Music City was like nothing he had ever heard. Part of him wanted to quit, but a bigger part just wanted to get to work and learn the craft. So, with the support and urging of his wife, he started making trips, in between his weekend band gigs, once or twice a month. He had a publishing deal by 2007 and was immersed in the community and the life. He had finally found a musical “home” - not necessarily in the town - but in the genre. The lyric-driven, story-driven, real-life-driven art of songwriting.
In the 16 years he’s been making those trips - he’s written his share of songs aimed at mainstream country artists because that’s what the Nashville machine does. But along the way, he also poured out HIS life and childhood and faith and struggles into some of them. Songs so personal and from his own unique window-to-the-world perspective, that maybe the person who needed to record them… was the guy writing them. But he’ll be the first to tell you that he never envisioned himself as an artist. “It just wasn’t in my train of thought,” he says. “First of all, by the time I started making trips to Nashville, I had outgrown the desire to be famous. It just didn’t interest me anymore. Secondly, my heart and soul was in the off-the-beaten path songs that had some REAL meat on the bone.” Then he laughs and says “And that’s not exactly commercial.”
Even when he quit the cover band gig and sold the business in November of 2018 to focus full-time on songwriting - it wasn’t to be an artist. It was all about the writing. But as he started to play his songs out on a regular basis in listening rooms and house concerts, and people began to react to them - he began to think maybe he should make a record. Only problem was… when would he have time? He was in Nashville two solid weeks EVERY month, plus an ever increasing number of shows in Texas.
Then, Covid-19 happened. At first, like everyone else, it threw his whole life upside down. Everything stopped - the trips, the shows, everything. He didn’t know what to do. About three weeks into it though, he realized that NOW he had time to work on a record. So he sat down and made a list of songs that might go on a record with his own name on it. “Call It Even” was at the top of the list and the obvious, no-brainer, title track. After all, it was HIS story growing up in Kerrville and every word and detail was true. His step-dad filled the first verse, and his mother, who eventually drank herself to death, took the second verse. The bridge is him realizing and shouting that he is not his parents and somehow at the same time… parts of him are inescapably them. It’s the hardest kind of self-examinination and self-discovery. And in the end - it’s about forgiveness.
He says that song set the tone for the decision making process for the rest of the track listing on the album.
“Now that I was looking at a project with MY name on it, it was just about songs that meant something to me personally, or songs that made me feel something in my heart, and songs that had a message that I wanted to put out into the world. I had no thought about what song might be a single for any kind of radio. I just wanted songs that I was proud of as a writer and as a human.”