One of the longer-lived family harmony groups in country music, the Whites started out as a bluegrass group, enjoyed a period as country hitmakers in the '80s, and later concentrated on gospel music. Buck White (vocals, piano, mandolin) and his daughters Sharon (vocals, guitar) and Cheryl (vocals, bass) officially comprised the group, but their roots dated back to Buck's first band in 1947. He went on to play bluegrass, honky tonk, and Western swing with a variety of bands in the '50s, most notably the Blue Sage Boys, and moved his family to Arkansas in 1961. Not long after, he and his wife Pat formed the Down Home Folks with another musical couple, Arnold and Peggy Johnston. Later on, Sharon and Cheryl started performing with the Johnstons' two sons as the Down Home Kids, and when the family moved to Nashville in 1971, they were integrated into the regular Down Home Folks lineup.
The Down Home Folks recorded five bluegrass albums during the '70s, with Pat retiring from the group in 1973. They caught a break when Emmylou Harris featured them on her 1979 album Blue Kentucky Girl and brought them out on tour with her as an opening act. Changing their name to the Whites to emphasize their family ties, Buck, Sharon, and Cheryl turned their attention to the country mainstream and had their first charting single in 1981 with a version of "Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On." They scored a Top Ten country hit in 1982 with "You Put the Blue in Me," the same year Sharon married Ricky Skaggs. The next year, they issued their first album as the Whites, Old Familiar Feeling, on Warner Brothers and welcomed dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas into their backing band. "Hangin' Around" and "I Wonder Who's Holding My Baby Tonight" both went Top Ten in 1983, as did "Give Me Back That Old Familiar Feeling" and "Pins" the following year. The Whites moved over to MCA and issued three albums from 1984-1987, just missing the Top Ten with the single "If It Ain't Love (Let's Leave It Alone)." In 1988, they made the switch to gospel music with Doing It by the Book, which appeared on the Word label. They spent much of the '90s without a record deal but returned in 1996 with Give a Little Back on the small Step One label. Another Whites album, A Lifetime in the Making, appeared on Skaggs' Ceili imprint in 2000. ~ Steve Huey