East Library hosts ‘Black Fathers of Folk Music’ program

by Feb 05, 2014(0) Comment

EAST LANSING — The East Lansing Public Library will host “Black Fathers of Folk Music: Lead Belly and Josh White,” on Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m.

The program, part of the library’s observance of Black History Month, is free and open to the public.

Josh White, Jr. and Rev. Robert Jones will take participants back in time with stories, conversations and songs about two influential folk musicians — Lead Belly and Josh White.

About Josh White

Josh White (1914-1969) was a legendary artist, who helped in introducing black folk, blues and spiritual music to the world. In his early days, beginning at the age of 7, White began leading several blind, black street musicians across America.

He would help the musicians by collecting their coins and accompanying their music with singing, dancing and playing of the tambourine.

Along the way, he taught himself to play guitar and develop his own unique song repertoire.

As an adult, in 1941, White was the first black artist to give a White House Command Performance and in 1942, he was the first black artist to perform in previously segregated hotels.

About Lead Belly

Huddie Ledbetter (1889-1949), better known to the world as “Lead Belly,” was an American folk and blues musician, as well as a multi-instrumentalist.

Like White, he began his career early, leaving home at age 14. He was known as the “King of the 12-String Guitar,” which became his ticket to life and freedom. Many of his songs can be found in the Library of Congress, the most famous being “Good Night, Irene.”

In June of 1998 the United States Postal Service issued the Folk Musician Stamp series, honoring Josh White and Lead Belly, along with Woody Guthrie and Sonny Terry.

About Josh White, Jr.

Josh White, Jr. began his career at age 4, performing with his father at Café Society, America’s first integrated nightclub in New York City. Josh White, Jr. is known as an interpreter of American folk songs and also as a songwriter and actor on and off Broadway.]

His nine solo albums include a tribute album to his father, “House of the Rising Son.”

About Rev. Robert Jones, Sr.

For more than 30 years, Rev. Robert Jones, Sr. has been a champion of American Roots music and stories.

]He believes that “traditional American songs and stories have much to teach us. We can learn a great deal about where we’ve been, who we are and where we are going.” Rev. Jones is a native of Detroit and has played for a wide variety of groups and causes.

White, Jr. and Rev. Jones specialize in the kind of music and stories that have traditionally motivated and sparked social change throughout history. They both look forward to the upcoming program at ELPL.

“This is something Robert and I have wanted to do for a long time and February is the perfect time to share the stories and songs of two men who fought against the Jim Crow laws,” said Josh White, Jr.

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