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‘American Idol’: Brooke White’s debut album returns to the Internet

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“I had shopped Brooke to practically every label in town and no bites,” confessed fallen Idol Brooke White’s former manager, Tim Simms, in a phone interview today. “No one thought you could shop the good girl.” As of today, however, Brooke White fans will be able to “shop the good girl” –- literally. Brooke’s debut album, “Songs From the Attic,” which she co-wrote and recorded with Tim, has now been re-released on Brookewhite.com.

Over the course of their four years working and recording together, Tim has been everything to Brooke: producer, manager, guitar player, roadie and more. “Its just a great, very, very unorthodox, professional” relationship, explained Tim, who remained in close communication with Brooke and her family throughout the competition. “It’s a great story,” he mused. “It’s like, movie of the week.”

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When Tim says “movie of the week,” he is referring not to Brooke’s proclivity for waterworks but to their long, hard struggle for success. Tim first caught wind of Brooke when she was 19, through a friend who was teaching Brooke’s artist development class at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles.

“Tim, you’ve gotta hear this girl,” said the teacher. “She’s got that ‘it’ factor.” Tim wasn’t so sure. “I hear that all the time,” he thought.

With more than a little resistance, Tim agreed to meet the teen student. “I said, OK, my house, quarter to 3, don’t be late,” recalled Tim. When he first laid eyes on Brooke, Tim wasn’t convinced. Her glasses, dress and diminutive presence made him see her as “little meek Brooke … like Mary Poppins, man!” But for reasons he’s still unsure of, Tim recorded the first song Brooke ever played for him: “Come to My Rescue.” At the time, it was the only song in her repertoire. Tim still prizes that first recording and recalls that performance as the moment he knew he’d found something special. “It was just like … when the hairs on the back of your neck go up.”

Tim signed Brooke and began to tirelessly promote her. Eager to “jump on [the Norah Jones] bandwagon,” Tim and Brooke recorded a three-track piano-vocal demo tape, which Tim passed around to his industry contacts.

‘You would have thought I was sending them, like, some alien ship,” chuckled Tim.

Tim convinced some contacts at Island Records to attend Brooke’s show at a local pub called Molly Malone’s, but they went home unimpressed. “They were like, ‘We kinda hear what you hear, but we don’t know if the suits will hear it. … Why don’t you record some tracks?’ ‘

And so they did. “We tried one song and we thought, ‘That sounds pretty good,’ and we kept going,” Tim explained. Tim and Brooke co-wrote and recorded the entire album in Tim’s attic, and so they called it “Songs From the Attic.” They sought, above all, to make the album organic. Aside from a couple of covers, the album was just an unknown young woman named Brooke, singing from her heart. The album made the rounds, but still, nobody was interested. “The industry, collectively, from New York to Nashville to L.A., everyone passed,” admitted Tim. “No one heard what I heard.”

But Tim kept fighting. “This was just raw talent that can’t be taught or bought,” he insisted. Next came a Star 98.7 video contest. For less than $1,500 and with two days to shoot, Tim and Brooke recorded a music video and entered the competition. Brooke made the top five and got to compete at the Key Club. “Everyone thought she was going to win,” Tim recalled. She didn’t.

“She was ready to throw in the towel,” explained Tim. “Everyone is saying, ‘You can’t sell the good girl,’ and I’m like, ‘You’re wrong. Brooke, you don’t have to change. She’s the nicest person I’ve ever met, period.”

Wasn’t there any place where a good girl could be free to be the good girl?

And that’s when it dawned on him. Brooke should audition for “American Idol.” When Brooke countered that she didn’t even know when auditions were, Tim went online to find out. “The last audition was in three days.” Brooke packed her bags and got on a plane. The rest is history.

Now that Brooke has been eliminated, Tim is making “Songs From the Attic” available to the public. As of today, it is available on Brookewhite.com. Needless to say, Tim couldn’t be more pleased about Brooke’s tremendous success. Plus, he adds, “I’m just happy to know that I wasn’t delusional the whole time.”

-- Stephanie Lysaght


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