Niyoki (pronounced Nie-oh-kee), an African name meaning “serious minded and responsible,” was given to her by her mother, a high school French and Spanish teacher in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her father, the Reverend Clifford White, is pastor of Loving Faith, a nondenominational church in Fort Wayne. At age five, Niyoki began performing with her piano-playing mother, father, brother, and older sister in the White Family and remained with the group through high school. Her two younger sisters later joined the group which recorded five albums, and toured the Midwest and Southeast on weekends and during the summer.
The White Family traveled by van with Reverend White driving. “It was real tight quarters with all of us in the van,” Niyoki remembers. “Sometimes the trips were long, but mostly I remember how much fun it was.”
On some occasions, however, the group came up short financially. She saw her parents deal with business disappointments, especially concerning the finances. “I think that makes me more business savvy now,” Niyoki says.