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City of a Million DreamsNew Orleans at Year 300$
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Jason Berry

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469647142

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469647142.001.0001

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Dr. Michael White and the Widow’s Wail

Dr. Michael White and the Widow’s Wail

(p.279) 14 Dr. Michael White and the Widow’s Wail
City of a Million Dreams

Jason Berry

University of North Carolina Press

Dr. Michael White is a jazz clarinetist, bandleader, composer, jazz historian and professor from New Orleans. White grew up in the Lower Ninth Ward, moved to a predominately-white neighbourhood at age 7, and later attended Xavier, a Catholic university with a largely African American student body. Growing up, White was a voracious reader who enjoyed learning the clarinet and Spanish. He worked as a freelance clarinet player in Ernest “Doc” Paulin’s brass band for parades and funeral marches. White had an epiphany in 1978 when he discovered the work of George Lewis, who had died in 1968. Unlike the Creole clarinettists from family traditions of the Seventh Ward, Lewis drew his inspiration from the chant-like rhythms of small churches and the bent pitches of blues and country. White studied Lewis’s work, and also began researching the histories of the jazz players in his own family, including his ancestral cousins Willie “Kaiser” Joseph and “Papa John” Joseph. Like his idol George Lewis, White wanted to capture his people’s story through his music.

Keywords:   Dr. Michael White, George Lewis, Clarinetist, Ernest “Doc” Paulin, Jazz, Funerals, Willie “Kaiser” Joseph, “Papa John” Joseph

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