Aaron White joined the Saint Augustine Children's Choir in the fourth grade, and he never stopped singing.
Born July 27, 1971, to Jim and Mary White in Barberton, Ohio, Aaron was never the strongest in academics or athletics, but he found his place in the arts.
"When it came to music," said Mary White, "he was 120% there.
He loved music â€“ any kind of music â€“ and his mother played a role in that.
"When Aaron was growing up, I would play all kinds of music while I cleaned the house. Show music, Sonny and Cher â€“ whatever. Just music," Mary said. "It never occurred to me that it would have an impact, but it did. Aaron came home one day and said 'You know what mom? I'm glad you played all that music because now when I hear about it in school I know what the teacher's talking about. I know Camelot, I know Grease, I know Funny Girl. I know what the Wiz is!'
Aaron sang with the Saint Augustine's Children's Choir from fourth grade through eighth grade, longer than any of the other boys. But he did not stop there.
While attending Barberton High School Aaron took voice lessons from a Kent State University alumnus, and also performed in the show choir and all of his high school's musicals.
"The director actually chose the Music Man play because she wanted Aaron to play the lead," said Christine Olle, Aaron's sister. "She chose that play based on his talent; she wanted to hear him sing the songs.
He loved every minute of the musicals, from easily memorizing the enormous scripts, to the music he got to perform onstage.
Mary told us, "When he was getting ready for school one day he said, 'You know mom, I can't think of anything better than being able to sing all day.'
Aaron's high school vocal teacher, Julie Sterman, felt Aaron had what it took and encouraged him to pursue a career in music. When he applied to Kent State University's College of the Arts, he received a vocal scholarship and was extremely proud.
"In the hallway at Barberton they have 8 x 10 pictures and information about the kids who received scholarships," Mary said. "And there was his picture, on that wall. I remember looking at it and thinking 'Who would have ever thought?' He struggled in school, so receiving a scholarship was pretty cool for him.
One of the familyâ€™s favorite stories about the impact of Aaronâ€™s music happened on a Christmas morning while Aaron was a student at Kent State.
â€œEvery year, we went to mass at 6 a.m. Christmas morning. When Aaron was in college he was a little defiant, but he would still come to Christmas mass with us,â€ said Mary. â€œEveryone in the church would sing all the Christmas carols during those masses, but one time, everyone in the church stopped singing, one by one, until the only one left singing was Aaron. The others had stopped singing because they wanted to hear him. When the mass was over a woman, probably in her 70s, turned around to face him and said â€˜Thank you. You gave me my Christmas present today.â€™â€
(To continue reading Aaron's story, click here.)
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