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Bukka White

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Booker T. Washington “Bukka” White (November 12, 1909 – February 26, 1977) was an American guitarist and singer.

Born between Aberdeen and Houston, Mississippi, White was a first cousin of B.B. King’s mother (White’s mother and King’s grandmother were sisters). White himself is remembered as a player of National steel guitars. He also played, but was less adept at, the piano.

“Bukka” is a phonetic spelling of Booker White’s given name, first used by his second (1937) record label (Vocalion). White started his career playing the fiddle at square dances.
He claims to have met Charley Patton early on, although some doubt has been cast upon this; Regardless, Patton was a large influence on White. White typically played slide guitar, in an open tuning. He was one of the few, along with Skip James, to use a crossnote tuning in E minor, which he may have learned, as James did, from Henry Stuckey.
He first recorded for the Victor Records label in 1930 as Washington White. His recordings for Victor, like those of many other bluesmen, fluctuated between and numbers. His gospel songs were done in the style of Blind Willie Johnson, with a female singer accentuating the last phrase of each line.
Nine years later, while serving time for assault, he recorded for folklorist John Lomax. The few songs he recorded around this time became his most well-known: “Shake ‘Em on Down,” and “Po’ Boy.”

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