C.C. Rider the Venerator: Josh White

This is the latest from The Bluesmobile’s C.C. Rider, who spends her life venerating the founding fathers of the blues. She’s walked the crooked highways of this singing country to resurrect the voices of the past. With the dirt of the Delta on her hands, she sleeps in the shadow of the giants on whose shoulders popular music now stands.

Guitarist Josh White inJosh White

(February 11, 1914 – September 5, 1969)

While other Bluesmen were fighting for women and whiskey, Josh White was fighting for equality. A large portion of his recording time was devoted to direct pleas to the government to end segregation.

The House of Un-American Activities was not pleased with his outspoken artistry—in the early ‘50s they blacklisted his work and labeled him a communist.

White had a history of motivating civil rights action. Ten years before, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had invited White to play at his second inauguration. It was the beginning of a long friendship—and one in the name of change. It’s said that Roosevelt was moved to desegregate the armed forces after he heard White’s songs, “Uncle Sam Says” and “Defense Factory Blues.”

Josh White’s canon of civil rights blues inspired black and white men alike to push for equality. Here’s FDR’s favorite—”Uncle Sam Says.”


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