Josh White, Jr.



Biography

Born November 30, 1940, in New York City, one of five children, to Joshua Daniel White, famed singer/guitarist/actor/social leader, and his wife Carol (nee Carr).

Josh White, Jr., became, a 'hit' literally over night at the age of four, by performing with his legendary father JOSH WHITE one night at New York's famed "Café Society" night club (America's first integrated nightclub). For the next five years, Josh, Jr. performed with his father from New York to Boston to Philadelphia. In 1949, Josh, Jr. landed his first role on Broadway, and as Josh says, "It was type casting..." he played his father's son in How Long Til Summer? with Dorothy Gish and Don Hanmer. While continuing a solo acting career, Josh went on to perform and record with his father for the next seventeen years on radio, television, Broadway, concert halls and nightclubs around the world.

Josh attended New York's famed Professional Children's School, along with Elliott Gould, Sandra Dee, Brandan de Wilde, Leslie Uggams, Christopher Walken, and, among others, Marvin Hamlisch, who co-wrote Josh's first solo recording for Decca in 1956, "See Saw".

Between the years 1949 and 1960 Josh was in five Broadway plays and one off-Broadway play: "How Long Til Summer," in which he was honored with a Special TONY AWARD as "Best Child Actor" of the year in 1949; "The Man," with Josh White, Sr. (1950); "Touchstone" (1955); "Take A Giant Step" (1957) (the popular, long-running Off-Broadway play, in which he was the third person to take over the starring role, following Billy Gunn and Josh's friend Lou Gossett); "Only In America" (1959) starring Nehemiah Persoff; and "The Long Dream," (1959) book by Richard Wright, directed by Lloyd Richards, whose cast included Al Freeman, Jr. and newcomer Clarence Williams III. Some other actors he shared the stage with in these plays were Arthur O'Connell, Godfrey Cambridge, Patty McCormick, Beah Richards.

By 1961 Josh had already Guest Starred in more than 50 American Television Dramas, and co-starred with his father in Great Britain for North Grenada television in "The Josh White Show." However, as he was approaching his 21st birthday, the number of acting jobs available on Broadway, TV and film for young Black actors was limited, while musically, the Folk Revival in America was beginning to take storm and offer more lucrative opportunities. Accordingly, Josh decided to focus on his career as a singer/guitarist, put his acting career on hold, and branch out from his long association with his father, to go on the road alone to pursue his solo concert and recording career.

After the 1956 Decca Records release, and after more recordings with his father (such as "Josh White at Town Hall" 1960), Josh, Jr.'s solo recording career continued with "Do You Close Your Eyes" - Mercury 1962, (which is a "golden oldie" in the Pittsburgh area to this day); "Good & Drunk & Goozey" (with sister, Beverly White) - Sonnet 1963; "I'm On My Own Way" - Mercury 1964; "The Josh White, Jr. Album" - United Artists 1967; "One Step Further" - United Artists 1968; Spoken Arts multi-media production, "The Dream Awake" with James Earl Jones, Josh White, Jr. and Josephine Premice, an educational aid complete with film strips, teacher guide and seven long-playing recordings containing performances by the cast, with an original text by Owen Dodson; "Josh White, Jr." Vanguard 1978; "Sing A Rainbow" - Mt. Railroad 1979, "Josh White, Jr. Sings Traditional Folk Songs" - National Archives 1980; the 1980 recordings of "The Strangest Dream" and "The King's Highway" (official Theme Song recordings for the "Peace Corps" and "VISTA" - both composed by his old friend Ed McCurdy); "May The Brush Be With You" (with Jimmy Carter, Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali & Lily Tomlin) - Cornucopia 1981; "Delia's Gone" - FFMM 1983; "Almost Alone" - Eagle 1984; "Jazz Ballads & Blues" (GRAMMY nominated instrumental jazz album tribute to his father) - RYKODISK 1987; "Live at the Soft Rock Café" - RTG/Oceansong 1990; "My Favorite Toy" (children's album) - Coden/White Records 1994; plus numerous appearances on festival, compilation and tribute albums; the recent "House of The Rising Son" - Silverwolf (late 1999) and "Cortelia Clark" - Silverwolf (October 2000).

After appearing on countless television variety and talk shows around the world as a solo artist, including such American shows as "Today," "Merv Griffin," "Steve Allen," "Joey Bishop," " Mike Wallace," "Mike Douglas," " Della Reese," "Gary Moore," "Arthur Godfrey," "Kate Smith," "Donald O'Connor," and "Hootenany," Josh, Jr. starred in his first PBS/TV Concert Special in 1979 "Ramblin" with Josh White, Jr.", and co-starred (with Odetta, Tom Paxton, and Bob Gibson) in the 1980 "Soundstage - Just Folks" Concert TV Special, followed by two more PBS/TV Specials: "The Making of JOSH: The Man & His Music" 1984, and "Josh and Ron's Family Adventure", 1993, with Ron Coden. Josh Jr.'s composition "Say A Prayer For A Stranger" was performed by Harry Belafonte on the ABC-TV prime-time Special, "100 Years at The Music Hall."

As a concert artist, Josh, Jr. has performed on the world's greatest stages of four continents, including Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Odeon Hammersmith Hall, Berlin Philharmonic Hall, and Madison Square Garden to name a few.

From 1963 through the 80s, Josh headlined more than 2000 college concerts. At the peak of this folk boom, in the mid 60s through the late 70s, Josh was considered one of NACA's most celebrated and honored performing artist. C. Shaw Smith, from Davidson College, North Carolina, penned him the 'Dean of College Concert Attractions'.

Josh returned to the theatrical stage in 1983, in his first musical - a musical revue - "One for Me, One for You". An original regional theatre production, all of the songs were written by his good friend Mayon Weeks who was also one of the performers. In 1983, he premiered the musical dramatic biography of his father Josh White, Sr., entitled "JOSH: The Man & His Music" (written and directed by Broadway veteran Peter Link) to 'rave reviews' at the Center for the Arts, Boarshead Theater, in Lansing, Michigan, for a five-week, sold out, limited-run engagement. Every few years Josh, Jr. reprises the play on the road with great success and is proud to maintain the image, story and songs that his father gave us all. Josh also sang "The John Henry Suite", as Guest Star with the "Dance Theatre of Harlem" in a limited tour which took him from New York to San Francisco with one of the stops at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Josh, Jr.'s marriage in 1963 to Jackie Harris produced two children - Joshua 'Buddah' White III, an actor/playwright born in 1963, and Jason, born in 1969. In November, 1971, following the death of his wife and just two years after the death of his father, Josh, Jr. left New York City, and moved to upstate New York with his two sons and slowed down his touring. During that time, he established an artist-in-residence program at many college campuses he performed at during the regular school year so he, his sons and their Malamute, Robin, could spend their summers together. Josh White, Jr. moved to Detroit in 1976 and married Sara, in 1978. Sara brought four children to the marriage; Josh brought two.

Josh White, Jr. has received Honorary Doctorate Degrees from the University of Maine, and the University of West Florida; was named the "Voice of The Peace Corps" and "Voice of VISTA" by the US Gov't in 1980; in 1982, he shared the stage with his mother at the Smithsonian Institution's 100th Birthday Celebration of Franklin Roosevelt; in 1983, he was presented with "Keys to the City" by Detroit and Lansing, Michigan, and on April 20, 1983, the State of Michigan honored he and his father with "JOSH WHITE and JOSH WHITE, JR. DAY"; In 1984, he was named "Michigan Man of The Year", he was honored with the " Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award" at Opryland in Nashville, and in 1987, he was honored to be named the Host and Emcee for the final two legs of festivities for Pope John Paul II's grand tour of America. In earlier years, he also appeared with his father at President Johnson's Inauguration and at a Command Performance for the Prime Minister of Canada. And, in July, 1997, Josh was the Special Guest Star Performer at the national Community Service Conference's Annual Banquet in New York honoring Harris Wolford (the co-founder of the Peace Corps) with its Lifetime Achievement Award, as he performed "Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream", the Peace Corps Theme Song he had recorded for Mr. Wolford years earlier. In recent years, Josh, Jr. has added to his multi-dimensional talents and touring schedule, by becoming a "single-digit" (as he calls it) performer, doing children and family concerts, including school concerts for grades K-4. And with the release of the U.S. Postal Service's stamp honoring his father (and Leadbelly, Woody Guthrie and SonnyTerry)he does a music/lecture session on his father, Josh, Sr. for grades 5 through 12. He provides an extraordinary, interactive experience for young people.[Read comments from some of the schools.] He has appeared many times on the Nickelodeon Network and he along with his good friend, Ron Coden, hosted their own PBS special, "Josh and Ron's Family Adventure."

In 1991, Josh teamed up with the founder of "StoryLiving" Rändi Douglas. "StoryLiving" is an outreach alternative educational program. The purpose is to teach history and social studies using multiple intelligence and as Josh says, "It is where you become the people you are learning about and then when you become emotionally involved, you never forget." And all this happens in the classroom with music, imagination and role-playing. Sessions are held in schools from third grade and up, universities, churches, temples, community centers and at seminars.

Josh White, Jr.