Sonny White

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 New York City

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1937 - 1958

Roles Represented in DAHR: piano

Recordings

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  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "White, Sonny," accessed October 25, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110115.

White, Sonny. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 25, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110115.

"White, Sonny." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 25 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/110115

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