By ANGYE MORRISON
Statesboro native Tasheina Canty-White is the final artist to be featured in the ONE series on the Averitt Center for the Arts’ Emma Kelly Theater stage as the series comes to a close for the season.
“I’m very honored,” she said of being selected to perform as part of the series. “I’m very humbled and honored and I’m really appreciative.”
Canty-White says the opportunity has “awakened something in me that needed to be awakened.” She has been writing more, although she has been writing songs for a while now.
“It’s forcing me to reflect on my gift of songwriting even more, so I appreciate this opportunity,” she said.
Deeply rooted in gospel music, Canty-White is a classically trained soprano, skilled in genres that range from traditional and contemporary gospel to classical to modern. She holds a deep passion for spirituals and hymns. She will focus this particular performance, she said, on her original songs, and plans to mix things up a bit — there will be a little soul, a little gospel and some children’s songs that are inspirational.
“There will even be a rock and roll tune,” she said.
Canty-White plans to begin the performance on her own, then bring in children to sing with her, and then The Canty Singers, a trio she performs in with her mother and sister. The trio performs both contemporary and traditional gospel, and they have released a single, “Ooh Jesus.”
Canty-White says she has been deeply influenced in her music by her family, and credits them with much of her inspiration. She is the daughter of James and Cynthia Canty, who are well known in Bulloch County. Her mother has performed as a pianist and vocalist for more than 40 years. She began singing as a young child under her mother’s training, and Canty-White went on to study at the University of Georgia and Piedmont College. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Therapy, and a Master of Arts in Music Education. She is currently an elementary school music teacher.
In addition to teaching, Canty-White also serves as a worship leader in several area churches, after having felt a calling to offer her vocals to ministry. She has served at Crossroads Community Church, Magnolia Baptist and Mt. Moriah Baptist. She also served as the virtual praise and worship leader for Abundant Life AME Church from May 2020 to July 2021.
Canty-White says her mother was her first influence on her musically, and she calls herself an “old school baby at heart.” She loves the music of the 1970s, pointing towards the live instruments and the “very authentic singing without autotune.” Soul and gospel music have also influenced her as an artist.
As for her inspiration when writing songs, Canty-White says that her life experiences are key.
“I’m very reflective. During my reflections, I see images and hear sounds; I guess that’s the artistic part of me. If I were to explore the artistic side, I would probably draw what I’m feeling, but I tend to just write the lyrics and melodies as to what I’m feeling,” she said.
For her performances, Canty-White says her inspiration is always her family foundation. She calls herself blessed to have family on both sides who served in the church.
“They weren’t just members, they served the community and they served their churches. So when I reflect on who I am as a person, a lot of it goes back to my foundation, and how I saw my grandparents and great-grandparents serving as, I call it, Christian soldiers in the community. They just were always trying to do right by people and to help people. I’m really inspired by my family’s foundation of faith,” she said.
To prepare for her performance, Canty-White laughs as she says she’s been using a microphone as she teaches her 800 students, in order to save her voice.
“Talking all day long can wear your voice down,” she said.
She’s also been working with a trainer to be sure she is physically fit, and has maintained a healthy diet, priorities she has anyway, but has focused on more closely in the weeks leading up to the ONE performance. Canty-White has also spent time in spiritual reflection, fasting and prayer.
On the night of the performance, Canty-White wants her audience to leave feeling “lifted.”
“Feeling lifted and encouraged, maybe even renewed or just rejuvenated,” she said, “because a lot of my songs that I’ve written were written during my low points or during a struggle, or maybe just sometime during discouraging moments. The songs that I’m presenting, they have a message of hope and determination.”
Tickets are on sale now for ONE: Tasheina Canty-White, set for April 22 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at www.averittcenterforthearts.org, or by calling 912-212-2787.