John Paul White returns to the stage in crossover performance with Shoals Symphony Orchestra

Shoals

FLORENCE, Ala. — Friday and Saturday night at the University of North Alabama, the inside of Norton Auditorium was filled with applause and excitement as people gathered to celebrate and enjoy live music.

It’s something that singer-songwriter John Paul White hadn’t experienced for quite some time.

“It’s not really like riding a bike, those muscles that you have to flex on stage,” White said. “It’s a little awkward right now, changing guitars and tuning between songs and things like that.”

The show itself was described as a unique crossover event. The Shoals Symphony Orchestra performed original scores written by composer Scott O’Neil—all based on White’s music.

Some are calling it the light at the end of the tunnel as live music makes its return to the stage. White said before the concert, he hadn’t performed in more than a year because of the pandemic.

After the concert, White could only describe the experience as spiritual. “It’s like an out-of-body experience,” he said. “At times, I’m wondering, ‘are these my compositions, are these my songs?’ It’s fantastic what Scott O’Neil did with his arranging.”

As for the symphony, director Daniel Stevens said it took about a year and a half to produce the show, and he looks forward to even more.

“We really hope that if everybody stays safe and wears their masks and gets their vaccines that as we look into the fall that we can resume some normalcy in our lives because we’re all thirsty for live arts,” Stevens said.

With so many music legends calling The Shoals home, Stevens said he would look forward to the idea of the symphony collaborating with even more artists.

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