Discussions, Interviews & Lectures Detail
:: Description :: Alan Lomax interviews Carol and Beverly White on Josh White and the Roosevelts
:: Project :: 1981 FDR Commemorative Concert
:: Date Range :: 01-01-1981 to 12-31-1981
:: Particpants ::
Lomax, Alan
White, Carol
White, Beverly
:: Subjects ::
Abel Merropol's "The Man that Couldn't Walk Around"
Eleanor Roosevelt's favorite folk songs
Josh White and family's Christmas with the Roosevelt family
Josh White's relationship with Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson
Carol White's training with Juanita Hall; membership in Hall-Johnson Singers; Kate Smith's refusal to sing with
Josh White's patriotism and progressive ideals
Eleanor Roosevelt - hospitality of
:: Cultures ::
African American
North American
:: Holdings ::
:: Notes :: Interview with Carol (wife of Josh White) and Beverly White (daughter of Josh White) about Josh White's relationship with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Begins with song fragments "It's In Every One Of Us To Be Wise" with chorus. Alan Lomax asks for Josh White's "One Meat Ball." Josh White, Jr., sings (fragment). Alan Lomax: That's great! We'll certainly use that. Bevely White sings: "The Man That Couldn't Walk Around" by Lewis Allan (pseudonym for Abel Meeropol). Alan Lomax: Never heard that. That's perfect You've got a voice like honey! You broke my heart. They talk about Eleanor Roosevelt's favorite folk songs. She loved "Barbara Allen" and "I Gave My Love A Cherry ["The Riddle Song"]," "Molly Malone" was a particular favorite. She had a deep feeling for Josh White, who was capable of mesmerizing people. Every one of his concerts ended with "The House I Live In." Eleanor Roosevelt thought that folk music was the music of the people. She would say that when it was sung well, you could hear the people talking. Josh White's introduction to Franklin Roosevelt. His surprise at the firmness of FDR's handshake, "almost broke my hand." Josh White's yearly performances at Hyde Park. Eleanor Roosevelt's hospitality, Christmas gifts to the White family children. Her love for Josh White and Josh White, Jr. She always called Josh White "Mr. White." Mrs. Roosevelt was a person who made you feel you and what you had to say was important. She made others feel comfortable, served people's plates herself. There were hot water bottles in the beds when the White family stayed overnight. When Josh White performed, the Roosevelt family sat on the floor in front of him; Eleanor Roosevelt would be knitting. Josh White's performances at other presidential inaugurations. Josh White performed with Odetta, Judy Collins, and the Clancy Brothers. His award from B'nai Brith the year Kennedy was shot. Vice President Johnson hugged him and said he had lots of his records. The Whites attended Johnson's inaugural. Alan Lomax: Did Josh ever say anything about Mrs. Roosevelt's sensitivity to black problems? The opening of the door [to civil rights] - at least a crack - came with the Roosevelts. Carol White: We felt it was a big crack. But black people were not into folk music. They would say, "Your husband sings those hillbilly songs." Alan Lomax asks where Josh White got his progressive ideas and liberal inclinations. His singing for nothing at progressive musical occasions. Carol White: It came from his heart, from his apprenticeship on the streets. Josh was a caring person. His work was misunderstood. He loved America, when he traveled in Europe he always said "I'll be glad when I get home. There's no place like America." Every concert always ended with "The House I Live In." Carol White as a singer trained with [Juilliard trained African-American star] Juanita Hall and sang with the Hall-Johnson choir. Kate Smith's manager refused to let them sing with Smith; he didn't want black singers. They sing "What Is America To Me." Tape of Josh White singing "Strange Fruit." Their relationship with family friend, Burl Ives. Josh White as a family man, his thoughtful relationship with neighborhood children.

 

 

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