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Thu, 02.11.1915

A master of Folk/Blues, Josh White

Josh White 1945

*Josh White was born on this date in 1915. He was an influential African American Folk and Blues singer.

From Greenville, S.C. White started singing in churches as a child and left school at an early age to work in South Carolina, North Carolina, Chicago and elsewhere as a guide and accompanist to blind street singers, including Blind John Henry Arnold, Blind Joe Taggart, Blind Blake, Blind Lemmon Jefferson. In 1932 White moved to New York and started making a living as a professional guitarist and singer.

He made numerous blues recordings including Lazy Black Snake Blues 1932. He also recorded many religious song too such as Pure Religion Hallilu 1933, under the name the Singing Christian, a year later he married Carol Carr. In the 1940’s a larger white audience that moved towards folk music and radical politics enjoyed White, who made no secret of his leftist politics. He played with Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee at hootenannies, rent parties, and lofts.

It was during this time that her recorded Get Thee Behind Me with Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, and appeared on radio programs sponsored by the Office of War Information as well as performing and recording at the Library of Congress. In 1944 he performed with Paul Robeson in The Man Who Went To War, a radio operetta with a text by Langston Hughes. Other credits to him include playing at the inaugural ball for President Roosevelt in 1945.

After World War II, White became a prominent international entertainer. After denying Communist sympathies before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1950, he made a number of tours all over the world. An auto accident in 1966 forced him into retirement. Josh White died during open-heart surgery in Manhasset, New York in 1969.

Reference:
ACSAP Biographical Dictionary
R. R. Bowker Co., Copyright 1980
ISBN 0-8351-1283-1

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