GALLATIN, TN — Author-musician-historian extraordinaire Ruth (Bland) White died Dec. 30, 2016, following a brief illness. Among her books are: “Every Highway Out Of Nashville (Volumes 1 & 2)” “Mecklinburg: The Life & Times Of a Proud People,” “The Original Goober,” “You Can Make It If You Try” (R&B legend Ted Jarrett’s tale), “Nashville Steeler” (bio of picker Don Davis) and “Knoxville’s ‘Merry-Go-Round,’ Ciderville & The East Tennessee Country Music Scene” (Nova Books).
Born in Nashville, daughter of Mary (Jackson) & Thomas Allen Bland, Ruth Carolyn began her association with the music scene at East High School, graduating in 1947. A teen-aged Ruth played piano in a seven-piece band under the baton of Bill Wiseman, touring middle Tennessee. A brief marriage to hi s drummer, Murrey (Buddy) Harman (later a noted member of Nashville’s A Team) was annulled by their parents.
Ruth sought her music major at the Ward-Belmont College, and worked at the historic Strobel’s Music Store, playing sheet music songs for prospective customers. While married to Bob Kirkham (brother-in-law to noted session singer Millie Kirkham), she moved to Chicago, where she also worked in a major retail store managing their music department. The couple had two children Robert, Jr. and Kathleen, the latter later adopted by Ruth’s third husband, steel-guitarist Howard White, who was playing in Country Music Hall of Famer Hank Snow’s Rainbow Ranch Boys band, when they met.
Another assignment she reveled in was station librarian at WSM-650 Radio, where she managed the music files, assisting Grand Ole Opry manager Vito Pellettieri, and pianist Marvin Hughes with his popular WSM-TV Waking Crew programming. Following her 1965 marriage to White, she worked in liaison with him and partner-composer Henry Strzelecki (“Long Tall Texan”) in their Locomotive Music Publishing house and indie label October Records, sponsored by Pepsi-Cola. Ruth was also employed at one time or another with Country International Records, Reed Music, and Porter Wagoner Enterprises, managing the Opry star’s production, publishing and booking.
In 2010, Ruth was honored with the industry’s esteemed Source Award, citing her pioneering accomplishments on Music Row. A true daughter of the South, Ruth adhered to the following stanza: “The place where tea is sweet/And accents are sweeter/ Front porches are wide/And words are long/Y’all is a proper noun . . . And someone’s heart is always being blessed.”
According to Kathleen, “Per her wishes, no services will be held, but any remembrance to your local animal shelter would be a comfort to Mom.”