Sorry to report the death Uncle Jessie White, Detroit blues elder statesman, on Tuesday, January 29th at the age of 87. White moved to Detroit in 1950 after spending his youth picking cotton in the fields of Mississippi and playing in Jackson, MS juke joints. During the Detroit riots of 1967, when many blues and jazz clubs closed in the city, Uncle Jessie White and his family hosted weekend blues sessions at their home that lasted throughout the night. These jam sessions became a regular event even after the riots, and they’d run all weekend long, from Friday evening after work, until Monday morning -- only stopping for the work week so the musicians could go back to the lines in Detroit's auto factories. These sessions continued through 1971 and saw tons of local and national talent pass through to perform at the famous house.
White mentored many Detroit musicians during those jam sessions and he became a father figure on the local scene. He later ran the weekly jams sessions at Detroit’s Soup Kitchen and also led the Detroit 29th Street Blues Band at the old Attic Bar in Hamtramck. Blues Factory Records released a CD of his music in 1991.
Our condolences to his family, which includes nine children, 24 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
There will be a jam session tonight, Thursday, January 31st, at Nancy Whiskey's, 2644 Harrison St. (313-962-4247), in honor of the bluesman. Donations will be accepted at the door, with all proceeds going directly to the funeral home. Viewing will be next Tuesday, February 5th, at Gates Of Heaven Funeral Home, 4412 Livernois Avenue (313-894-2427), with the funeral scheduled for the next morning, Wednesday, February 6th, at 11 a.m. Anyone wishing to contribute to help defray expenses can make donations directly to the funeral home.
Uncle Jessie White: A Detroit blues legend, 1920-2008