Our community is blessed with many good Southern Gospel singers and groups. One such person was LaVaugh “Whitey” Cantrell. “Whitey” as he is known around here passed away on Friday. “Whitey” received His nickname at Rossville High School where he graduated. Mr. Cantrell worked at Combustion Engineering as a welder until his retirement in 1991.
I first became acquainted with “Whitey” when I went on the air at WDOD in 1965. “Whitey” became and remained a faithful listener to my programs on both WDOD and WDYN. A lot of times he’d call just to say hello and let me know he was tuned in. He loved Southern Gospel Music and the quartets as much as anyone.
Cantrell started singing Southern Gospel Music in 1954 with the Gospel Tones Quartet. The legendary singer traveled across the United States with the Scenic land Quartet. They would open for J.D. Sumner and the Stamps.
He formed his own group, the Whitey Cantrell Singers, and sang with his family in area churches.
I think “Whitey” would rather sing than eat. I never will forget the night the famous Blackwood Brothers Quartet sang at the Hullander farm. Before the evening was over “Whitey” and Jimmy Blackwood were singing a duet of “I wanta be more like Jesus”. It was “Whiteys’ signature song but also made famous by the Blackwood Brothers.
Whitey and his wife Ann were regulars at the Epicurean Restaurant. He never failed to speak to his friends and always mentioned how much he liked my Southern Gospel Music programs.
I believe one of the first things God asked him to do was a duet with James Blackwood, “I wanta be more like Jesus”.
“Whitey” was inducted into the Tri State Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame. “Whitey” wouldn’t trade places with any of us in his new Heavenly Home with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I will always remember “Whitey” and his big smile. “Whitey” Cantrell is now smiling and singing in Heaven's Choir.