Josh White was one of the more influential Blues, Folk, Spiritual singers of his time. This is quite the understatement and is painted with quite the broad brush. His influence is so much more than a blog entry for a record store. To read more, pictured left, is the biography "Society Blues, by Elijah Wald.
As a child he witnessed a black man being tarred, feathered and lynched. White played regularly for Franklin Roosevelt (in fact, after the death of Roosevelt, White's little brother William, became Eleanor's personal assistant, chauffeur the rest of her life). White was an actor, a sex symbol, he was blacklisted in the 1950's and was the first black artist to play in the Greenwich Village nightclub Cafe_Society, the first inter-racial nightclub in the the U.S. White was one of the first black singers to have a white audience following with help from the song, "One Meatball". He was lifted off the blacklist when President Kennedy invited him to play on the CBS civil rights special, "Dinner with the President". White performed at Lyndon Johnson's inauguration. He had a stamp made for him in 1998.
The list of admirers and people he influenced is a who's who of actors, musicians & politicians. He frequently sang with Billie Holiday, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, and Lena Horne, among others. You talk about a list of admirer's, here are just few of White's, Elvis Presley, Dave Van Ronk, Bob Dylan, Phish (they've frequently covered "Timber") Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Robert_Johnson (yes, that Robert Johnson), Nat King Cole, Harry Belefonte, Odetta, and Ray Charles. Poet Langston Hughes wrote the liner notes for White's record, "Songs by Josh White". "Jesus Gonna Make Up Make Up My Dying Bed" became Led Zeppelin's "In My Time of Dying", so yes, count Mr. Jimmy Page as a fan. "Silicosis Blues" was later covered by the Jay Farrar & Anders Parker's project Gob Iron on the record "Death Songs for the Living"
The best way to experience an artist is through the music. We have several Josh White records in stock. They are in great condition, including "Josh White at the Town Hall". We have a couple of very rare, highly coveted, 10 inch records that date back to 1949. Come in to check them out, we can even give them a spin to listen to them for yourself before you buy.
In the meantime, witness this video of Josh White singing "Nobody Knows You When You Are Down and Out"
Josh White died in Manhassett, New York in 1969 of heart disease.