All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Bukka White

Bukka White Bukka White

Booker T. Washington “Bukka” White was another of the original Bluesmen to come out of Mississippi, living the life they sang about. He benefited from a resurgence of interest in his music and was able to enjoy firsthand the Blues Revival, performing and recording until his death in 1977.

Born on a farm near Houston, Mississippi, November 12, 1909, and named for the famed black educator, Bukka White was interested in music from an early age. His father taught him guitar at the age of nine, and a chance meeting with Charley Patton convinced the young White to “come to be a great man like Charley Patton.” The son of a railroad worker, White was exposed to the sound of trains from an early age and was not afraid to hobo a train. He rode the rails from the Mississippi Delta to St. Louis, where he played poolrooms, barrelhouses, and parties for food and tips during the 1910s and 1920s.

During a 1930 stay in Memphis, White recorded fourteen songs, including three gospel numbers with Memphis Minnie supplying background vocals. Two 78s were released from the session, one containing two gospel sides and the other containing two blues numbers. Neither met with commercial success, but during this session White received the designation “Bukka” from a white record producer who had never heard of his famous namesake Booker T. Washington.

He continued to travel during the 1930s, working as a professional boxer in Chicago and as a Negro League pitcher with the Birmingham Black Cats. During the summer of 1937, White shot an assailant in the thigh and was sentenced to Parchman Farm. Before beginning his sentence, he recorded two blues for the Vocalion label, including “Shake 'Em On Down,” which sold in excess of 16,000 copies. Bluesman Big Bill Broonzy recorded “New Shake 'Em On Down,” and scored another hit on that theme while White toiled at Parchman. Making the best of a bad situation, he recorded for folklorist Alan Lomax in 1939, while the latter was at the notorious prison recording for the Library of Congress.

Read more

Tags

Photos

Albums

Watch

Similar

B.B. King B.B. King
guitar, electric
Howlin' Wolf Howlin' Wolf
voice / vocals
Robert Johnson Robert Johnson
voice / vocals
Son House Son House
guitar, slide
Mississippi John Hurt Mississippi John Hurt
guitar, acoustic
Blind Lemon Jefferson Blind Lemon Jefferson
voice / vocals
Big Bill Broonzy Big Bill Broonzy
guitar, acoustic
Sleepy John Estes Sleepy John Estes
guitar, acoustic
Elmore James Elmore James
guitar, slide
Blind Willie McTell Blind Willie McTell
guitar, 12-string
Mance Lipscomb Mance Lipscomb
guitar, acoustic
Furry Lewis Furry Lewis
guitar, acoustic
Blind Willie Johnson Blind Willie Johnson
guitar, slide

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and through our retail affiliations you'll support us in the process.

MUSICSTACK
Rare vinyl LPs and CDs from over 1,000 independent sellers
AMAZON
CDs, Vinyl, Blu-Ray DVDS, Prime membership, Alexa, SONOS and more
HD TRACKS
Specializing in high resolution and CD-quality downloads
CD UNIVERSE
Specializing in music, movies and video games
REVERB
Marketplace for new, used, and vintage instruments and gear

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.