This Month's Show
JOSH WHITE 100TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
With JOSH WHITE JR.
December 6, 2014
Josh White Jr. is celebrating his 70th Anniversary in show business, beginning as a child star performing and recording with his legendary father Josh White, an original Carolina Piedmont blues player who pioneered the blues, spirituals and songs of social conscience – first on New York’s radio, nightclub, Broadway, film and concert stages and then on to the whole world in the 1930s and 1940s.
From the age of seven to fifteen, a barefoot Joshua White, began walking the dirt roads of America's South by leading a series of 66 old blind, Black street singers, while witnessing and experiencing the horrors of Jim Crow. His solo recording career spanned from 1928 - 1967 with a dozen popular records. From 1940 - 1945, Josh gave five White House Command Performances and performed at two Roosevelt Inaugurations.
His million selling record, "One Meatball" in 1944, was the first for a Black man and for a folk singer. He would also star in films, Broadway and radio, as NBC National Radio aired Josh's biographical radio drama Josh White - Helping the Blind. And, he was regarded as America's first Black male sex symbol. In 1963, after more than fifteen years enduring the backlash of America's McCarthy era, Josh White appeared on television with President Kennedy; and performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the historic March on Washington. He would later perform at Lyndon Johnson's Inauguration. Josh White died in 1969, after years suffering with crippling heart disease.
Josh, Jr. carries forward the immense musical and social activist legacy of his father and can take you back to the times when "House of the Rising Sun," “Strange Fruit,” “One Meatball,” “The House I Live In,” “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” and “Waltzing Matilda” first became popular songs to the masses, and to the experiences he shared with Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, Bojangles, Leadbelly, Joe Louis, Eartha Kitt, Woody Guthrie, Billie Holiday, Pete Seeger, Dorothy Gish, Burl Ives, Odetta and Pope John Paul II. But he has also established his own musical and activist legacy since becoming a solo artist in 1961, with 25 albums ranging in a variety of styles, including his self-penned positive message songs and the songs his father made famous. He has toured the world’s greatest concert stages, starred in four TV concert specials, is a TONY Award winning actor, educator and teacher, humanitarian and passionate idealist, and a supreme children’s performer.
In 1980 he was named the `Voice of the PEACE Corps’ and VISTA, and has sung for presidents, prime ministers, the Pope, the imprisoned and the poorest of the poor around the world. Josh White Jr. is a living link to 20th Century African-American history, the history of the blues and to his legacy and inherent responsibility of being an artist/activist.
"The theater was dark, and in the silence, the dramatic sound of fingers snapping in the PA gave way to a powerful bluesy voice center stage, singing : `I've Been Down So Long (that the tears roll up my face)'. The follow spot slowly began lighting up the center stage runway which jutted out into the audience, to reveal a lone, powerful, black man, bald with a full beard, bringing us rapidly into his pained misery, tears rolling down his cheeks. The conclusion of this opening song brought silence... then a thunderous standing ovation! Here is a performer who knows dynamics and takes the audience right into his world. There aren't many solo, acoustic artists with the confidence, talent and professionalism of Josh White, Jr." -Performance Magazine
As the holidays approach, we are collecting food for the Center for Food Action. Please bring an item or two to share with those less fortunate.
CFA's Most Needed Items: