Life and Music of Josh White

Scope: 

Born February 11, 1915 in Greenville, South Carolina, Josh White became a trademark of folk music with his brilliant performances of blues, ballads, gospel, and work songs.   Starting out as a guide and apprentice to blind bluesmen such as Willie Walker and Joe Taggart, White soon moved to New York City where he became a fixture in the coffee house and cabaret scene.  He became an international star, appeared in theater, film, television, and even became a guest of the White House.  Josh White’s work broke through the stereotypes that confined black musicians and blazed the trail for the likes of Harry Belafonte, Nat “King” Cole, and Sam Cooke.  His performances still serve as a reminder of his significance in making blues a staple of folk music, as well as the role he played in the evolution of popular music.  This Pathfinder will provide an introduction to the sources available on the life and music of Josh White.

Introductory Text: 

Born February 11, 1915 in Greenville, South Carolina, Josh White became a trademark of folk music with his brilliant performances of blues, ballads, gospel, and work songs.   Starting out as a guide and apprentice to blind bluesmen such as Willie Walker and Joe Taggart, White soon moved to New York City where he became a fixture in the coffee house and cabaret scene.  He became an international star, appeared in theater, film, television, and even became a guest of the White House.  Josh White’s work broke through the stereotypes that confined black musicians and blazed the trail for the likes of Harry Belafonte, Nat “King” Cole, and Sam Cooke.  His performances still serve as a reminder of his significance in making blues a staple of folk music, as well as the role he played in the evolution of popular music.  This Pathfinder will provide an introduction to the sources available on the life and music of Josh White.

Library of Congress Subject Headings: 

Highly Relevant:

White, Josh

White, Josh – Juvenile Literature 

Also Relevant:

Blues musicians--United States--Biography

Blues (Music) --Encyclopedias

Blues musicians --Biography --Dictionaries

More General:

Singers -- United States -- Biography -- Juvenile Literature

Blues (Music)--1931-1940

Blues (Music)--1941-1950

Blues (Music)--1951-1960

Related:

African Americans --Biography.

Folk songs, English--United States.

Ballads, English – United States

Spirituals (Songs)

Blues (Music)

Clipping Files Subject Headings - W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection: 

Black Musicians Appalachia

Library of Congress Call Numbers: 

Highly Relevant:

ML420

Also Relevant:

ML420

ML102

More General:

SDA 73412

SDA 73413

SDA 73414

SDA 73415

SDA 07784

SDA 07785

SDA 45328

Related:

ML420

M1620

ML3521

Books: 

Shelton, Robert. The Josh White Song Book. Ed. Walter Raim. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, Inc., 1963. ASU SPEC APP COLL M1629.R16 J7

Wald, Elijah. Josh White: Society Blues. Boston: University of Massachusetts, 2000. ASU SPEC APP COLL ML420.W48 W35 2000

Siegel, Dorothy S. The Glory Road. White Hall: Shoe Tree Press, 1991. ASU SPEC APP COLL ML420.W48 S53 1991

Guides, Encyclopedias, and Dictionaries: 

Shelton, Robert. The Josh White Song Book. Ed. Walter Raim. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, Inc., 1963. ASU SPEC APP COLL M1629.R16 J7

Wald, Elijah. Josh White: Society Blues. Boston: University of Massachusetts, 2000. ASU SPEC APP COLL ML420.W48 W35 2000

Siegel, Dorothy S. The Glory Road. White Hall: Shoe Tree Press, 1991. ASU SPEC APP COLL ML420.W48 S53 1991

Bibliographies: 

For a comprehensive list of works about Josh White reference:

Ford, Robert. “Josh White (Joshua Daniel White).” A Blues Bibliography. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2007. pp. 1038-1042. ASU MUSIC REFERENCE ML128.B49 F67 2007

For an overview of recorded works by Josh White reference:

Sheridan, Tim. “Josh White.” All Music Guide to the Blues: The Experts' Guide to the Best Blues Recordings. Eds. Michael Erlewine, Chris Woodstra, Cub Koda & Stephen T. Erlewine. 2nd ed. San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books, 1999. pp. 475-476. ASU MUSIC REFERENCE ML156.4.B6 A45 1999

Abstracts and Indices: 

To locate journal articles search “Josh White” in the following:

The Music Index Online, Harmonie Park Press, 1999-Present, also in print (updated quarterly with annual cumulation). Index of journal articles about classical and popular music from more than 640 international music periodicals. 

International Index to Music Periodicals (IIMP), Chadwyck-Healey,1990-present (updated quarterly). The IIMP provides indexing and abstracts for several hundred international music periodicals from over 20 countries.

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, RILM International Center, 1967-Present (updated monthly).  The RILM is a comprehensive collection that currently has 620,000 records, and over 30,000 new records being added each year.

Journals: 

(1988-Present). Black Music Research Journal, ASU MUSIC BOUND JOURNAL. 1997-Present available in Academic OneFile. 1980-2008 available in JSTOR Archive Collection.

(1999-Present). Blues & Rhythm, The Gospel Truth, ASU MUSIC BOUND JOURNAL

(1999-Present). Living Blues. ASU MUSIC BOUND JOURNAL

(2007-Present). Journal of the Society for American Music, Retrieved from http://0-journals.cambridge.org.wncln.wncln.org/action/displayJournal?jid=SAM

Audio and Video Sources: 

A great resource for examining the power of Josh White’s performances is:

White, Josh. Josh White, Free and Equal Blues: Rare Performances. Vestapol Productions, 2001. DVD.  ASU SPEC APP COLL VIDEO DVDisc 2.

For the early recordings of Josh White’s music reference:

White, Josh. Josh White, Complete Recorded Works 1929-1940 in Chronological Order. Document Records, 1993. CD. ASU SPEC APP COLL CD CDisc #93

For recordings during his time as a cabaret star and eventual performer in the White House reference:

White, Josh. From New York to London: The Classic Recordings. Jasmine Records, 2002. CD. ASU SPEC APP COLL CD CDisc #587

Other Sources: 

Reviews

Wald, Elijah. “Josh White and the Protest Blues.” Living Blues 32.4 (2001): 36-42. ASU MUSIC BOUND JOURNAL. Retrieved from International Index to Music Periodicals (IIMP)

Compiled by: 

Timothy McWilliams

11/5/12