Ellerton Oswald White (November 11, 1917, Panama City, Panama - April 28, 1971, New York City), better known as Sonny White, was a jazz pianist.
White took on the nickname Sonny while a member of Jesse Stone's band in the middle of the 1930s. Later in the decade he played with Willie Bryant, Sidney Bechet, Teddy Hill (whose band at the time also included Dizzy Gillespie and Kenny Clarke), and Frankie Newton. White recorded several sessions with Billie Holiday, with whom he had a yearlong affair in 1939, and their engagement was announced in Melody Maker that May. White was a member of different line-ups backing Holiday in New York between January 1939 and October 1940, including the classic recording of "Strange Fruit"; in her autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, Holiday mistakenly credits White with having co-written the music, to a poem by Lewis Allan.
In the 1940s he spent time in the bands of Artie Shaw, Benny Carter, with whom he played both directly before and directly after military service during World War II, and in whose band he would again play with Dizzy Gillespie, Big Joe Turner, Lena Horne, Dexter Gordon (1944–46), and Hot Lips Page (1947). In the 1950s White played with Harvey Davis and then with Wilbur De Paris, remaining with the latter until 1964. In the 1960s he freelanced with Eddie Barefield (1968), among others, and was working with Jonah Jones at the time of his death in 1971.
Birth and Death Data: Born November 17th, 1917 (Panama City), Died April 28th, 1971 (New York City)
Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1937 - 1958
Roles Represented in DAHR: piano
|Company||Matrix No.||Size||First Recording Date||Title||Primary Performer||Description||Role||Audio|
|Victor||BS-010571||10-in.||6/14/1937||Hot Club stomp||Mezz Mezzrow Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||instrumentalist, piano|
|Victor||BS-010572||10-in.||6/14/1937||The swing session's called to order||Mezz Mezzrow Orchestra||Jazz/dance band||instrumentalist, piano|
|Victor||BS-046832||10-in.||2/5/1940||Indian summer||Sidney Bechet ; New Orleans Feetwarmers||Jazz/dance quintet||instrumentalist, piano|
|Victor||BS-046833||10-in.||2/5/1940||One o'clock jump||Sidney Bechet ; New Orleans Feetwarmers||Jazz/dance quintet||instrumentalist, piano|
|Victor||BS-046834||10-in.||2/5/1940||Preachin' blues||Sidney Bechet ; New Orleans Feetwarmers ; Sonny White||Jazz/dance quintet, with male vocal solo||instrumentalist, piano|
|Victor||BS-046835||10-in.||2/5/1940||Sidney's blues||Sidney Bechet ; New Orleans Feetwarmers||Jazz/dance quintet||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||63558||10-in.||4/6/1938||Do the Alamo||Willie Bryant Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||63559||10-in.||4/6/1938||You'll never remember and I'll never forget||Willie Bryant Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||63560||10-in.||4/6/1938||You're gonna lose your gal||Willie Bryant Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||63561||10-in.||4/6/1938||Neglected||Willie Bryant Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||67781||10-in.||5/20/1940||Night hop||Benny Carter Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||67782||10-in.||5/20/1940||Pom pom||Benny Carter Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||67783||10-in.||5/20/1940||O.K. for baby (Okay for baby CD MCA-GRP 2629-2/2)||Benny Carter Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||67784||10-in.||5/20/1940||Serenade to a sarong||Benny Carter Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||68284||10-in.||10/23/1940||By the watermelon vine, Lindy Lou||Benny Carter Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||68285||10-in.||10/23/1940||The last kiss you gave me||Benny Carter Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||68286||10-in.||10/23/1940||Boogie woogie sugar blues||Benny Carter Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||68287||10-in.||10/23/1940||I've been in love before||Benny Carter Orchestra||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||105428||8/6/1958||Blues for the street-1||Tony Scott and the All Stars||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||105429||8/6/1958||[Unknown title(s)]||Tony Scott and the All Stars||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||105430||8/6/1958||[Unknown title(s)]||Tony Scott and the All Stars||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||105431||8/6/1958||Love is just around the corner||Tony Scott and the All Stars||instrumentalist, piano|
|Decca||105432?||8/6/1958||[Unknown title(s)]||Tony Scott and the All Stars||instrumentalist, piano|
Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "White, Sonny," accessed August 3, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110115.
White, Sonny. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved August 3, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110115.
"White, Sonny." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 3 August 2020.
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