Olivia Jean Says Surprise Onstage Wedding to Jack White 'Was the Best Experience' of Her Life

"You could plan a wedding for five years and it wouldn't compare to that," Jean told The New York Times of marrying White onstage during an April concert at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan

Jack White Gets Engaged, Married to Olivia Jean Onstage at Detroit Concert
Jack White and Olivia Jean. Photo: David Swanson

Olivia Jean is opening up about her surprise onstage proposal and marriage to Jack White.

In a new interview with The New York Times, the 32-year-old singer-songwriter spoke in-depth about her reaction to the impromptu nuptials and how her relationship with White came to be.

"It was the best experience of my life," Jean told the outlet of the proposal and wedding, which occurred amid a duet of the White Stripes' "Hotel Yorba" during White's April 8 concert at the Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan. "You could plan a wedding for five years and it wouldn't compare to that."

Before meeting White, Jean grew up playing instruments and performing in several bands, and she eventually produced demo CDs in high school for her friends and co-workers in her native Detroit. "It was a hobby," she told The New York Times. "I didn't know you could make money off of music."

In 2009, a friend told then-19-year-old Jean about a secret concert White was playing with his band Dead Weather, and she brought a bunch of demo CDs to the show. After placing them around the venue, both inside and near the musician's tour bus outdoors, she received a call from her future husband a few weeks later.

Over the phone, White — who secretly watched her lay out the CDs with Dead Weather from the tour bus — asked her to come record with him at Third Man Records in Nashville, Tennessee. "I put the phone down and then I just laid on the ground for a few minutes," recalled Jean. "Like, this is not real. This can't be real. This doesn't happen to people."

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The "Seven Nation Army" performer, 46, gave a statement to The New York Times about his first impressions of Jean's music, which read, "The fact that she incorporated surf guitar and the low-fi recording of all the instruments (that she played herself) into her songs, while also being from Detroit, not to mention the bouffant hairdo and style, all showed me this was a very unique and talented person worth inviting into the Third Man world."

Jean soon moved to Nashville and formed a band called the Black Belles with Ruby Rogers and Shelby Lynn, and together they released a self-titled album recorded in collaboration with White in 2011.

"It was hard in a good way, because it inspired me to become better," she said of the experience. "But at the same time, you become a little less confident in yourself. You start to realize, I'm not as great as I thought I was, so now I really need to work."

Jack White
Jack White and the Black Belles. Mike Coppola/Getty

The Black Belles split the following year, and Jean released her debut solo album in 2014 — around the same time she began getting romantic with White. "We were just really good friends," she detailed. "You have to know that you can be friends for a while before you can date. It wasn't really a transition. It was more, OK, this is happening. More like a continuation."

Ever since, the couple has worked on music and several other projects together for Third Man Records. At the same time, Jean has continued working on solo music — including a forthcoming album — from White's former pool house, which she recently converted into her own studio.

Despite now having a high-profile musician husband, Jean remains humble regarding her stature as a solo musician. "I've realized as I get older that I have my own thing. I'm niche," she said. "This is who I am, and people accept that or they don't, it doesn't matter to me."

During an April interview on The Late Show, White opened up to host Stephen Colbert about what led to his onstage proposal and marriage to Jean.

White informed the comedian he was thinking about proposing all day but wasn't entirely sure about making the move until shortly before the concert began. "I thought, as the day was going on, if a day had some left turns, maybe it wasn't the right day," he said during the interview. "But the day kept going so well! I figured it was a good time."

Ultimately, he said Jean made the decision to tie the knot onstage in front of White's audience. "I asked her, 'Do you get married now, or do you wanna wait?'" recalled the rock star. "And she's like, 'No! Right now! This is a great day!'"

Despite their brief exchange about the onstage nuptials, White said Jean was initially taken aback by the proposal. "She was very surprised… Luckily, Ben Swank — who works at Third Man Records — he's also a minister of some church on the internet. I don't know," he detailed with a laugh. "He was backstage."

From 1996 to 2000, White was first married to the other half of the White Stripes, Meg White, 47, whose last name he adopted and uses professionally to this day. In 2005, he then got married to Karen Elson, 43, and together they had two kids: 15-year-old daughter Scarlett Teresa and 14-year-old son Henry Lee.

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