Local songwriter honors ‘Dancing Outlaw’
by WILLIAM WRIGHT, Lifestyles Editor
Mar 06, 2011 | 4271 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ODE TO THE DANCING OUTLAW — Cleveland singing artist Tanner Flowers co-wrote and sang the latest song about “The Dancing Outlaw” Jesco White, who lives in poverty despite his celebrity status. Flowers said if the song is a success part of the proceeds will go to assist White. Photo courtesy of Vision Studios Photography. Inset, White posed with movie star Johnny Knoxville who produced the documentary “The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia,” currently airing on Showtime.
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Famous mountain dancer and celebrity entertainer Jesco White, the “Dancing Outlaw,” has teamed with Cleveland singer/songwriter Tanner Flowers and written his biography song, aptly named, “The Dancing Outlaw.”

White is best known as the subject of two documentary films that detail his desire to follow in his famous father’s footsteps, while struggling with the drug addiction, depression and the poverty that afflicts parts of rural Appalachia.

The new song, already available on YouTube, speaks of Jesco’s birth in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, his rise to fame, his encounters with country music legend Hank Williams Jr., Hank Williams III, Roger Alan Wade, and his famous skit on “Roseanne.”

On Feb. 11, 2011, Showtime premiered a revealing documentary on White and his West Virginia clan called “The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia,” touted as “a portrait of America’s last outlaw family.”

The film was produced by local celebrities Johnny Knoxville and Storm Taylor, according to Flowers.

“It portrays the life of the White family and introduces the viewer to the same struggles Jesco had to go through at a young age. You see the poverty, you see a town where the only hope of a career is becoming a coal miner and you also see some wild shenanigans.”

After viewing the film, Flowers said he was saddened at the thought of White losing his mother, Bertie Mae White, his wife, Norma Jean White, and having to see his father, Donald Ray White, murdered.

“What fascinated me was how someone who came from poverty, whose family had nearly all passed away at very young ages, who saw his father murdered right in front of him, could come to surpass that existence and develop a new life for themself. That’s exactly what Jesco did,” Flowers explained.

“So, I sat down and began to write. I wrote Jesco’s life story in song. The song is real. There’s not a fake line in it. The song ‘The Dancing Outlaw’, is a dedication and honor to the legend of Jesco White. I made a couple of phone calls and managed to get Jesco’s number. That was nearly five years ago. Today, we speak almost daily.”

In a rare telephone interview White praised the songwriting collaboration, saying, “I love the song. It’s really about what I went through in my life. What Tanner sang about is like I had written it myself. I think it’s really beautiful and I think it was a nice thing for him to do as a fan. I admired the way he put everything together. I thought it was genius. It matched me.”

A downloadable version of “The Dancing Outlaw” is coming soon to ReverbNation.com, an online music-marketing platform used by 1.1 million artists.

White was first profiled on PBS’s “Different Drummer” series. Because of his popularity, PBS eventually released two documentaries about him. The first was “Dancing Outlaw” in 1991, which featured him at home in West Virginia and gave audiences a glimpse into his troubled life.

A film inspired by his life titled ‘White Lightnin’ premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009.

“After getting to know Jesco as an individual, I began to understand the pressures fame had placed upon him,” Flowers said. The constant want from fans, family feuds, depression — I saw the real man.”

Flowers believes he has captured the real man in his latest song which he says he co-wrote with White and Athens native Charles Littleton.

“In less than two weeks it received over 1,200 plays,” he said. “I’m telling you, people love Jesco! They are infatuated with the man.”

When asked what’s next, Flowers said, “That all depends on the fans. I have received requests daily for a downloadable version of the song. Hopefully, that will happen in the future.”

But Flowers insists, “‘The Dancing Outlaw’ wasn’t written for money. It wasn’t written for fame. The song was written by a friend to show admiration to another friend. That’s it.”

“If money ends up coming from this, we’ll look at that as a bonus,” he said. “Jesco, my brother Tyler and myself are currently putting together another song.”

In the meantime, his new song about the celebrated “Dancing Outlaw” can be enjoyed on YouTube.com by going to The Dancing Outlaw by Tanner Flowers. For further information visit The Dancing Outlaw Jesco White fan club on Facebook.