WHM: Georgis White
Fri Mar 3 08:58:36 EST 2000
This is the first profile in honor of Women's History Month: GEORGIA WHITE.
This is one of my favorites. The profile was written by CLAUDIO CAPONI (now
)of Geneva, Switzerland . It has been reprinted with permission. Thank you
so much Claudio for allowing me to share this information from yet another
voice from the past who is deserving of more recognition (originally posted
in 1999). Lea Gilmore
Pianist/singer Georgia White was (supposedly) born on 9 March 1903 in
Sandersville (Washington County) a town just west of Macon, Georgia. The only
source for her birthdate are the recollections of Big Bill Broonzy in his
autobiography, and this has never been proven/substantiated.
Actually it is hard to think of a better example of the precariousness of a
blues singer's success: she was one of the most recorded female blues artists
of the 1935-1941 period, and was actually promoted at the time by Decca as
"The World's Greatest Blues Singer" (and her competition at the time was
quite tough: Memphis Minnie, Lucille Bogan, Lil and Merlin Johnson). On the
other hand, nothing is known of her childhood and youth, and, after her last
recording session in 1941, she suffered a very abrupt demise from public
favour. After forming an "all-girl band" and having a brief stint in
1949/1950 with Big Bill Broonzy's Laughing Trio, she continued appearing in
Chicago clubs for several years - her last known appearance being at the
Downer's Grove in 1959. She then practically disappeared and it is believed
to have passed away in about 1980.
Thus, the only way one can render her due tribute to Georgia White, is
talking about her music, her outstanding recorded legacy that deserves much
better fate than the oblivion where it is confined today.
She sang with a strong, biting, ocasionally throaty (yet always perfectly
controlled) contralto voice, and was equally capable of delivering both
lowdown blues ("Dead Man's Blues" and "Moonshine Blues" are two of my
favorites) and, no doubt at the behest of her producers, more risque material
("Hot Nuts", "Daddy Let Me Lay It On You" and "I'll Keep Sitting On It" are
superb examples of ribald songs interpreted in a laid-back manner with just
the right touch of impish mischief). She played piano in a good, solid,
rocking style, rooted in the best barrelhouse tradition, and was also
responsible for writing a good percentage of the material she recorded.
Perhaps, the best proof of her talent are the outstanding musicians that
accompanied her on her recording sessions: it will suffice to mention that
many of her sides are graced by the incredible guitar work of one of a trio
of outstanding guitarists: Lonnie Johnson, Ikey "Banjo" Robinson and Les Paul.
>From 1936, Richard M. Jones (Recording Director for Okeh betwenn 1925 and
1928, when he was responsible in getting Louis Armstrong to make his pivotal
records with the Hot Five and Seven for that company, Decca executive from
1935, and prolific composer) took her place on the piano stool. Perhaps it
was his influence that resulted in Georgia White recording some of the great
blues numbers from the 20s, some of which Jones had just happened to have
written himself, although authorship of some of his compositions has been
The revival of "Trouble In Mind", the better known of Jones' compositions
made famous by Berha "Chippie" Hill in 1926, was Georgia White's greatest,
and most enduring, success. And is not difficult to understand why: you may
have listened to an infinity of versions of this classic, but Georgia's
melancoly, world-weary vocal approach over Les Paul and R.M.Jones delicate
guitar-piano dialogue belongs in the Twentieth Century Music (any Music!)
Hall Of Fame, if there is one.
Want to know more about women in the blues? Please check out our web site:
"It's A Girl Thang - Women in the Blues!"
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