Blues And Ballads
Catalogue Number: ACRCD166
Josh White is unusual in that he had managed to blend an eclectic range of musical styles to create a unique balance of folk/blues and gospel. Born on February 11th 1914 he started his stage career at the age of 7 leading blind musicians onto the stage, during this period he saw his father beaten by police and then committed to an asylum where he died shortly after. He also learned to play piano and guitar and how to work an audience. He was treated badly by the blind men that he served and earned very little- but he gave all the money to his mother, who in turn gave most of it to the church. By the age of 18 he was working prolifically and had two distinct careers, under his own name he was a highly respected Gospel singer and musician whilst under the name of Pinewood Tom he enjoyed success as a blues singer and guitarist. By the end of the 30’s he had become a political activist and was drawn to the protest songs of the folk world, in particularly the main stays of the protest movement Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. In 1940 he appeared with another famous activist Paul Robeson in both “The Man Who Went To War” and “John Henry”. He also played at the White House for President Roosevelt and again in the sixties for John F Kennedy. This despite having been brought before the House Committee for Unamerican Affairs in the McCarthy years. “John Henry” was a hugely influential tune for many in the protest movement including Josh White and for Pete Seeger and has been revived by Bruce Springsteen on his new album- We Shall Overcome, and is also being released as a single. These recordings were made during a number of sessions in New York during the early fifties.