As the world woke up to increasingly unsettling news regarding the spread of the coronavirus Tuesday morning, country artist Drake White chose to block out the noise, and instead focus on the comforting sounds of nature.
“I’m just sitting here watching the deer and the birds fly around,” White, 36, tells PEOPLE outside the home he shares with wife Alex, 34, just outside of Nashville. “But yeah, these are definitely unfamiliar times.”
As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, the “Livin’ the Dream” hitmaker is trying his best to focus not on what he can’t control, but on what he can.
Zack Knudsen Drake White
“I’ve definitely had to become innovative about how I spend my time, but that’s what I have done,” he continues. “I’ve been using Skype to write songs and yesterday, I went in and produced a song with a buddy of mine.”
And on Wednesday, White will follow in the footsteps of John Legend, Keith Urban and Chris Martin as he performs on a digital stage from Whitewood Hollow, an event space housed in a hand-designed barn on his sprawling Tennessee property.
“Our dream of hosting live events is what breathed life into this barn,” says White, who spent much of last year undergoing treatment for an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), an abnormal tangle of arteries and veins in the brain that disrupts normal brain flow. “I was born with a Huckleberry Finn mentality of relentless optimism and that optimism is what made me think of doing a show for my fans online.”
Yet, White warns, this online show isn’t going to be too fancy.
“We are just going to get some cell phones and have a couple of my buddies come over and play music,” explains White. “We are all going through a tough time but the ability to jump online to create joy and get people away from their newsfeeds is something I can do.”
“Plus, people haven’t seen me in a while,” he adds. “I just want to go in there and let God work and let Him do his thing.”
White will also use Venmo to raise money for the musicians who will join him during the performance — the same musicians who could be hit hard by the slowing of business due to COVID-19.
“Heck, if we raise a thousand dollars, we can split it amongst the musicians and let them pay their light bill this month,” White says.
“And if we are touched by the hand of God and something miraculous happens in terms of the money raised, we will go ahead and donate it tornado victims,” he adds referring to the recent tornado that hit Tennessee earlier this month.
This online performance isn’t White’s first performance since going on a break, though. Two weeks ago, he hit the stage at a small show in San Antonio — even if he had to hold off on play the guitar due to some lingering numbness in his left hand.
“It was awesome,” says White. “I sang and played tambourine and harmonica for a good hour and 30 minutes and it felt good. There was probably 1,500 people there and it was like what I told them: it may be a cliché, but it’s unbelievable how music heals.”
And, White admits, he did shed some tears.
“I’m not much of a crier unless I watch The Notebook or something,” he laughs. “I was raised with the freedom to cry if you want to, but still, I’m not an emotional guy, but I had an emotional experience up there. The energy and the endorphins speeding around my heart and into my bloodstream during that show was amazing.”
As White continues to recover, his unwavering faith has never been stronger.
“There is no reason to worry about it if you are a person of faith,” White says about both the coronavirus and his own health issues. “I’m confident in God and in mankind and in the human aspect of our morality and how people will connect with each other now and forevermore.”
“The human mind is unbelievable and that’s what I choose to grasp to,” he continues. “It’s amazing what the human brain can do. I have learned that firsthand.”