White's first big break as a vocalist came about with something she wrote for herself, "If I Could Be with You," and a procession of other singles followed for the Duke/Peacock label, including "Just Look at You Fool," "Stop These Teardrops," and "The Tide of Love." Unlike many other blues singers, White didn't get started recording until she was 25, thanks to fellow Houstonian Johnny "Clyde" Copeland, who brought White to Duke/Peacock owner Don Robey's attention.
White began writing poems and songs when she was 12, she said in a 1994 interview. "Hardships in life made me start to write," she explained, "and the first record I cut was with a gospel group,'Precious Lord, Lead Me On.'" When she was 16, White moved to Houston and fell into the city's burgeoning blues club scene with Clarence Hollimon, who now records with his wife Carol Fran for the Rounder label.
White sings as well as she ever did, and though she's had time off from the road over the years, she's never stopped singing or writing songs. She released her first album, Miss Lavelle, in 1994. It was followed three years later by It Haven't Been Easy.