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  • Writer's pictureJoel Caballero

White Heart

Updated: Aug 16, 2023

White Heart, also listed as Whiteheart, was an American contemporary Christian music and pop rock band which formed in 1982. White Heart's discography includes eleven albums, the most recent Redemption was released in 1997. Original members Billy Smiley and Mark Gersmehl worked with a continually changing cast of bandmates. In 1985, former roadie Rick Florian became the lead singer.

White Heart formed in 1982 with two of its members Smiley and Gersmehl coming from Bill Gaither's group The Gaither Vocal Band. The first two albums were produced by members Smiley and Dann Huff, the two friends who formed the group and were listening to groups like Toto, Boz Scaggs, Journey, and Steely Dan at the time. The original line-up consisted of Smiley (rhythm guitar, keyboards and vocals), Gersmehl (keyboards and vocals), Huff (lead guitarist and co-lead vocals), Huff's brother David Huff (drums), Gary Lunn (bass guitar) and Steve Green (lead vocals).

White Heart was pursued by every major Christian label until Chris Christian heard their demo and signed them to Home Sweet Home Records and gave them their first record deal. By the time they released their third album, they were selling in excess of 250,000 albums. After their self-titled album was released in 1982, the band suffered its first lineup change. Green left the band, saying that rock was not his style. Green became a successful pop/inspirational solo artist in 1984 and beyond. They went on to tour with David Meece and Farrell and Farrell for the next two years, building their fan base, with Scott Douglas as Green's replacement as lead vocalist. Green continued to sing background vocals on the band's second album Vital Signs, and they had their first No. 1 single, "We Are His Hands", with Douglas singing the lead, and Smiley and Green singing the harmonies.

By the time White Heart released their third album Hotline in 1985, more band changes continued. Brothers Dann and David Huff left and lead singer Douglas was arrested for aggravated sexual battery and was sentenced a year later. Gordon Kennedy was Dann Huff's replacement on lead guitar. Smiley and Gersmehl hired Florian as their new lead vocalist, along with Chris McHugh as the new drummer. Their fourth album Don't Wait for the Movie was released in 1986 and became a very successful album and was even named one of the 100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music by CCM Magazine. Bass guitar player Gary Lunn had left the group after making the album and was replaced by new bass guitar player Tommy Sims when they went on tour. Sims would be a member on the albums Emergency Broadcast and Freedom.

By 1990, Sims, McHugh and Kenndy left White Heart to become session musicians.

Brian Wooten, Anthony Sallee and Mark Nemer filled the lead guitar, bass guitar and drum positions respectively for their next album Powerhouse. Nemer left soon after and the band brought back former drummer Chris McHugh to do the drumming for 1992's Tales of Wonder, playing all tracks except for one song,"Vendetta," which was played by Jon Knox.

Jon Knox would be a regular drummer on the albums Highlands and Inside.

Anthony Sallee left the band in 1994 and John Thorn replaced him on bass guitar on 1995's Inside. In 1996, Wooten, Knox and Thorn left White Heart leaving Florian, Smiley and Gersmehl as a trio. Their final studio album Redemption was released in 1997. The trio brought in studio musician friends to fill in the rhythm sections. After its release, Smiley, Gersmehl and Florian entered what they called "a dormant or eternal sabbatical stage." White Heart broke up in 1999.

More information on White Heart at Wikipedia:


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