LeRoy White: Ambassador of Joy
Spirit of Change 20th anniversary issue reprint from Sept/Oct 1999
Playing the stage for 38 years with the likes of Ike & Tina Turner, Kiss, Tim Harden and Herbie Mann, maverick musician LeRoy White says he’s received the best schooling a musician can get. “I’m good at what I do,” declares Leroy. “I have an energy source that never ends and I’m the best Leroy there is. I say this in absolute power so that I can give you the best I’ve got.”
LeRoy’s rich background of experience, spirituality and insight has led him to create the Soul and Conscience Tour for the Latter 20th Century featuring his unique brand of music he calls E.U.N.A (ethnic, urban, new age). His fusion of jazz, rock, pop, soul and ambient, underlined by amazing live percussion offers something for every human living in these times. His show is a reminder that we are not alone in our quest to free the human spirit as we move through this world with peace and strength to become beacons of love for each other. LeRoy’s goal is to uplift, inspire and light the way for us all through music.
CAROL: What is music?
LEROY: I think music is a remembrance of information. It’s the easiest way and the most ancient tradition to get the information of the elders to the populace.
CAROL: What is this information?
LEROY: That we are One. That we are more than meets the eye. That we are spirit. The elders in the community in ancient times would have folks tell parables, stories of sense of self, sense of the person next to you, sense of the oneness with the earth. And the layman, the community, so to speak, was able to understand it in a way that he could apply it to his life. So that is a tradition I am born under.
CAROL: What tradition is this?
LEROY: That as a musician my job is to pass the information of the elders of the tribe to everyone.
CAROL: Was that a part of your cultural upbringing?
LEROY: Well, the music was. I grew up in the projects of Newark, NJ, and in the summer we’d put on talent shows. Anybody bought a refrigerator — a great big cardboard box it would come in — and we would just gather together very tribal and bang on it with sticks. We’d bang on it all day until the box was torn apart. There must have been about 15 boys that all played together that summer. And so there must have been about 3 or 4 boxes that had come in. When I look back on it now, how powerful that was and how natural that was and the sense of the big self. I mean you didn’t worry whether your shoes were raggedy or you had no food or that you were black or whether it was the Korean War or anything. You were just in that moment. Of course I played for girls and I played for drugs and I played for status, too. But mostly, it was just you, the stick, the cardboard box and the community. It was something that we just did.
CAROL: How would you describe the music that you do now?
LEROY: At this point, I’ve been doing this for 38 years. After a lot of studying and reading, I’m at the point where I understand that my position is to do exactly what the ancients did. They took the information and the stories and made them so that everyone could understand then and say, “Yes, that’s why I am here.” Or “I’ve been through this and I am not alone.” I have an acronym for the music called Ethnic Urban New Age (E.U.N.A). That is what I’ve been calling it for the last 10 years, but in this last year there’s been a change in my life and I’m not sure what the music is called now.
CAROL: Do you feel that maybe these personal changes are related to larger global changes all around us?
LEROY: Absolutely. To be bold and come right out, I think this consciousness — we can speak of it in terms of the Christian tradition — Jesus is coming back. In the mythical tradition the idea is that Christ is the consciousness and that Christ is coming back as a remembrance. That idea never went anywhere. I don’t think that God is separate from anything so this Christ consciousness is being remembered and that is the shift that is happening.
CAROL: What is the Christ consciousness?
LEROY: Enlightenment, nirvana, Buddha consciousness, Great Spirit. The expression of God is our true nature. What we will see is that awareness of things as they really are and the actual participation in that awareness. Once you remember it, then you see the world as love, but not as strife; you see it as care but not as taking; you see it as compassion as opposed to apathy or not caring.
We are all connected. We’re just in different neighborhoods. That’s why the word “remember” is important in my vocabulary. We are remembering that we are One.
CAROL: How does that translate into our individual actions?
LEROY: It translates into “I am a child of God. I’m not fragmented from love.” So that means it isn’t a matter of having or not having; it is that you are and the person next to you is. I don’t need to complete you, I don’t need to take from you, I don’t need to be better than you, you’re not better than me. We just are. Once you are aware of who you are and the potential to make that work, the whole thing shifts. Everything is set in vibrations and your vibration sends out a sense of remembrance. It sends out a sense of great love so things happen beyond your mind. When you start to remember who you are, you behave in a different way which opens up a whole new box of tools. And the more I remember, the more I get clarity.
CAROL: So this music that you are playing is creating a vibration that affects people?
CAROL: What kind of instruments do you use?
LEROY: Well, I have electronic equipment and indigenous acoustic instruments. So I play congas, bongos, bells, shakers and I play E-MU sampling machines. I have lots of sampling machines that I use. Most of the songs are songs set to empower you. Sometimes they may bring you tears. But mostly the idea is to get the lower charkas moving because that is how we were born: relating to the space through our physical nature. When the music gets you into a groove, the information touches your heart and your heart opens deep inside because it recognizes this vibration is familiar. That is why people from all different spaces can relate to it. It might be a cord or a word that goes “Oh my goodness!” I found this is the easiest, most natural way for me to do what I am supposed to do here.
CAROL: How does this work with the vibration of racism?
LEROY: Well there is two different things happening. The first thing is like a spoiled child or the bully. He has to have one more big fight before he surrenders to change. We’re going to see a couple more things around that. The hate vibration between races has been around for a long time. So this is like a last scream.
On the other hand there is a lot of talk about diversity and remembering who you are. That is part of the human evolution. It is part of understanding why certain things do certain things to you. And you look back at your ancestors and go “My goodness, this is here because this is how my tribe behaved.”
CAROL: Why do we even have different tribes?
LEROY: There are different things to be offered from different parts of this Mother Earth. There are different looks, different foods, different ideas and they all help each other. The climate predicts that your skin looks a certain way, your hair is a certain way, you do certain things, you wear certain clothes and they become practical things and they are something to contribute to the global community. Why is that? Because we are all connected. We’re just in different neighborhoods. That’s why the word “remember” is important in my vocabulary. We are remembering that we are One.
CAROL: Why did we develop so much hatred of each other?
LEROY: You can’t just blame it on one thing, but the most common denominator has to do with the power of control. It’s like, “This is my land, this is my stuff and my stuff is more important than your stuff.” Once you realize it’s all the same stuff you know the earth doesn’t belong to us. We’re here sharing this. Your tears are my tears.
A great change is happening. It’s happening to us and as it happens to us then we perceive where we are in a different way and that is how the changes happen.
CAROL: Individual by individual.
LEROY: Yes. Each person latches onto the vibration of the One and then the whole world manifests as the One. Once you realize that there is just one breath, there would be no starving, there would be no hurting of the children, beating of the wives, jumping off bridges, starting wars because you realize who you are killing is the true self. Once you have a relationship with the true self, it goes beyond words.
CAROL: It seems that we are so far from that kind of realization. Do you think that will happen within our lifetime?
LEROY: I think there will be some great strides, but what I do is not for me. It’s for my children’s children’s children’s neighbor’s cousin’s children. I wrote a song called “We’re The Last to Cry.” I believe that we are the last generation to put up with this nonsense. I believe that we are the ones who are strong enough. These souls who chose to be here at this time are strong enough to confront why these tears have been shed continuously. You can see it in the new crop of children. Talk to the new crop of children and look at them. Things are changing.
CAROL: What about all the places around the world where there is still ethnic cleansing?
LEROY: I know this sounds like a terrible thing to say, but that is part of a big picture; it is not the whole picture. I know this may sound a little crazy but these souls have made a decision that their contribution is to remind us that racial hatred is not the way we want to go. If I’m chosen to be that message, I might walk out into the street and someone drives by and shoots me and claims that it is because of racial tension. Then somewhere, someplace else, maybe sitting in Timbuktu, that vibration sparks a remembrance for someone else to stand up and move ten times as fast as I fell to the ground.
CAROL: And to do the work positively.
LEROY: Yes. That’s right. I believe there is spot for each of us where we made a choice to be here way beyond our names and we will be called upon to make a sacrifice. We made a choice to be here in this time and space at the changing of the millennium and to contribute to the work. We have a wider library of information available to us now than ever before. In the past, just the king and pope and a couple other people had the information and it leaked out. Now you can walk into a store and pick up Spirit of Change and get ancient information. Why is that? It’s because those that are here have a job to do. That information is here to remind us all.
When the music gets you into a groove, the information touches your heart and your heart opens deep inside because it recognizes this vibration is familiar.
CAROL: So Hitler’s work was part of that too, and all the people who chose to be part of the centuries of slavery?
LEROY: That’s right. I’ve always lived in a space that there was something else going on. I’ve been the brother from outer space for a very long time.
CAROL: Where do you see yourself going from here?
LEROY: The bigger goal is to do my job and be a worthy servant. To get the information out without me getting lost is the process.
CAROL: How would you get lost?
LEROY: Well, I’ve been doing this since I was 13 so I can wind up doing it for the prestige, the money, the applause, for drugs, for woman, for all the things that are temporal. So the process is for me to stay in school and to take responsibility for my position and to keep remembering and to keep falling down and getting up. That is a 24-hour thing.
CAROL: How did the name Soul and Conscience Tour arise?
LEROY: Because everybody has a soul and everybody has a conscience. In playing the music we go on a tour of our soul and our conscience.
CAROL: Do you have experiences where people just didn’t get the music?
LEROY: No, I’ve had experiences where individuals didn’t get it and would just get up and leave, but that is their process. I figure you are going to get it one way or another. If it stirs you and you like it and if it stirs you and you don’t like it you’re still getting it. You’re getting something.
CAROL: Is there a big difference between doing it for five people or five thousand people?
LEROY: No there really isn’t. If I went by the numbers, my ego would get in the way. It would be like “Oh, there’s only ten people here so I’ll give them ten peoples’ worth and if there’s 5,000 I give them 5,000 worth. For me to come to terms with my ego, if there’s one or a thousand, it’s the same because you’re playing to spirit. I’ve learned what it’s all about is to just be still. Just be.
Interviewer Carol Bedrosian is publisher and editor of Spirit of Change Magazine.
2007 Postscript: Join the Soul and Conscience Tour! LeRoy is appearing live at the Spirit of Change Holistic Expo and Celebration on Saturday, Sept 29 at 6:00pm. See page 3 for info.