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South Central L.A.'s South Park was rededicated as "Barry White South Park Recreational Center" Saturday, July 7 (7-7-7)—after the legendary R&B balladeer— with the help of hundreds of community members, family members and a special visit by his son, Darryl White.
"Barry White grew up here; this was his park," said Jan Perry, 9th District Councilwoman. After Barry White passed, it was her idea to rename the park after him. "He wanted kids in this neighborhood to grow up with a sense of possibility. It's legacies like his that we must never forget."
"South Central is one of the worst areas in Los Angeles, but Barry White made it work for himself and others," said Deshonna Jones, one of the Parks Department's South Park event coordinators. "He inspired so many young men and women to go to college, get degrees and do better for themselves."
"Barry White was the ultimate," said Mary Banks, a L.A. native and long time fan. "I take my hat off to him for not turning his back on South Central. A lot of entertainers leave and don't reach back; but he did. He had respect for the community he grew up in and that is why he is being honored."
The event was highlighted by the unveiling of a painting created by the artist Mubarak. The montage, donated by E.J. Jackson - owner of Jackson limousines—depicts three images of Barry White. The painting, now hanging prominently on a wall 15 feet above the gymnasium's main level, was received with a standing ovation.
When Barry White's son, Darryl, saw the painting, he was moved to tears; his wife D'Ajaneigh comforted him. Afterwards he took the podium and spoke a few words in a voice that is hauntingly similar to his father's.
"I'm emotional when it comes to my daddy," Darryl White said, still tearful. "He taught us so much about respect and self respect."
After the unveiling and after a few performances by local talent on an outdoor stage, Darryl White presented his father with a musical tribute from his debut album, entitled, ‘DW-007' "It is What It Is!'He said he was dedicating the album to his father and sang a few singles from it in a baritone reminiscent of his father's.
"When it comes to my father, everyone tells me I have some big shoes to fill; but he wore a size nine and I wear a size 10," Darryl said with a humble smile. "Daddy cast a big shadow, but he brought us up right. He taught me at an early age to always love God first, family second and music third."
"Darryl has a huge heart just like his father," said D'Ajaneigh White, Darryl's wife. "It's wonderful to see how one man influenced so many and to see his legacy carried on by his son."
Darryl said the theme of the album is one of spiritual harmony and like his father's music, he said it's the kind of music you can make love to.
When asked if his father's fans young and old as well as the new fans he will gain will enjoy his music and the continuing musical legacy, he answered, "Sho' You right," in a deep baritone that his father made famous.