JOSH WHITE, a newly acquired appreciation for me

Chuck hhs249@GMAIL.COM
Sat Sep 11 17:52:44 EDT 2010

I have seen the name JOSH WHITE over the years, but one thing or another diverted my attention, until I ran across his account of what happened to him in 1950. 

Scroll down to page 5 to read Josh's testimony to the House Committee on Un-American Activities ( he voluntarily appeared to set the record straight, after-as he says in this article from a Sept 1950 issue of Billboard- he was suckered by the communists ).  A brilliant preemptive strike, imo. Brilliant is not simply hyperbolic rhetoric, his life story, starting with his very humble beginnings in SC,  to being one of FDR's close confidants, and eventually ending up with his own television show, proves as much. Sadly, the damage was done, and his career never really got back to where it was.

Josh White sings a couple of songs, the 2nd one tells how he got a job as a child leading a blind street musician.

Here is a review of Wald's 2001 bio on Josh White; It fills in some of the holes about his career, beatings at the hands of white soldiers in the 40s for singing Strange Fruit at NYC's legendary Cafe Society.

Also found on YouTube is one of the most creative takes on St James Infirmary that my ears have ever heard. Maybe it was the lynchings that Josh witnessed, or a black man being burned at the stake, whatever it was it compelled Josh White to stand up and sing about it, get down right political with it....and as some of us know, folk singers had a penchant for doing just that (I myself think it gave at least 15 years additional life to those long and aged legs of the genre).

Here is an episode of the History Detectives program that deals with what may be the Guild prototype guitar that the company planned to issue as a Josh White signature model.

I don't know about you, but stumbling upon that Billboard story, quite by accident, has left me with a much greater appreciation of Josh White, another of the African American pioneering musicians who are largely overlooked, and under appreciated. Do yourself a favor and go to YouTube and listen to all of his selections that can be heard there...who knows, it may even inspire a sale.


Sent from my iPad

Blues-L web site:
Archives & web interface:
- To contact the administrator, send an email addressed to:
- To unsubscribe, send a new email addressed to:, with the message: unsubscribe BLUES-L

More information about the Blues-l mailing list