Josh WHITE 1962

Joshua Daniel White (February 11, 1914–-September 5, 1969),[1] best known as Josh White, was a legendary American singer, guitarist, songwriter, actor, and civil rights activist. Today, he is widely remembered for his powerful and highly sensual stage presence, while some still remember that he almost single-handedly introduced Negro folk, blues, and gospel music to a world audience in the 1940s.

Few, however, are aware that White had suffered the most severe oppression growing up in the Jim Crow South, and despite these hardships would become in the 1920s and 1930s the youngest star of the "race records" era, with a prolific output of recordings in genres including Piedmont blues, country blues, gospel, and social protest songs, and billed in concert as "The Sensation of the South." In 1931, White moved to New York and within a decade his fame had spread widely, and his repertoire expanded to include urban blues, jazz, Tin Pan Alley, cabaret, folk songs from around the world, and hard-hitting political protest songs. When acquiring this broader audience he believed it was vitally important to improve his singing diction so that his story songs could be understood by the world masses, a fact that has dismayed some folk and blues purists who felt he should have stayed true to his roots as the rural country blues artist from South Carolina. His presentation and performance also became more polished and crafted for the main stage, and he soon was in demand as an actor on radio, Broadway, and film. However, his pioneering guitar playing never altered or diminished, while some would even argue it broadened with the expansion of his musical repertoire.

White also would become the closest African American friend and confidant to the president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Ironically, however, White's anti-segregationist and international human rights political stance presented in many of his recordings and in his speeches at rallies resulted in the Right-Wing McCarthyites incorrectly assuming that he must have been a Communist. Accordingly, from 1947 through the mid 1960s, White was caught in the vice grip of the anti-Communist Red Scare, and combined with his resulting attempt to clear his name, his career was harmed immeasurably. However, regardless of the purists' debate over the artistic change in his presentation or from those who opposed his politics, White unarguably inspired several generations of guitarists with his new and unique stylings and techniques, and is cited as a major musical and social influence by dozens of future stars, including Blind Boy Fuller, Robert Johnson, Brownie McGhee, Pete Seeger, Lena Horne, Nat King Cole, Harry Belafonte, Eartha Kitt, Lonnie Donegan, Alexis Korner, Odetta, Ray Charles, Elvis Presley, the Kingston Trio, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, Merle Travis, Dave Van Ronk, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, Eric Weissberg, Judy Collins, Mike Bloomfield, Danny Kalb, Roger McGuinn, David Crosby, Richie Havens, Don McLean, John Fogerty, and Eva Cassidy.

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