On Friday, February 7, 2020, The White Mountain School proudly welcomed internationally-acclaimed blues musician, Guy Davis, to campus. Davis both hosted a private workshop on stage presence with students, as well as an evening public performance, which, despite some of the heaviest winter weather of the season, was well-attended by area residents.
Davis’ visit was arranged as part of White Mountain’s Cultural Event Series, which aims to connect White Mountain students and the community at large with rich cultural and performing arts productions. The Cultural Event Series also aims to support White Mountain’s broader commitment to equity and inclusion by featuring artists from diverse cultural and musical backgrounds. At the workshop, Davis led students through several interactive exercises designed to help them shed their inhibitions around performing publicly, discussed his journey in finding his identity on stage, as well as other tales from his exciting career, and played a few of his songs campfire-style with only a harmonica. In the evening, Davis played both classics from his extensive catalog of music and previewed several unreleased songs that will appear on future albums.
Guy Davis has spent his musical life carrying his message of the blues around the world, from the Equator to the Arctic Circle, earning him the title “An Ambassador of the Blues.” The son of Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Guy fell under the spell of blues icons like Blind Willie McTell and Fats Waller at an early age. His one-man play, “The Adventures of Fishy Waters: In Bed With the Blues,” premiered off-Broadway in the 1990s and has since been released as a double CD. He went on to star off-Broadway as the legendary Robert Johnson in “Robert Johnson: Trick The Devil,” winning the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping the Blues Alive” award. He followed the footsteps of another blues legend when he joined the Broadway production of “Finian’s Rainbow,” playing the part originated by Sonny Terry in 1947.
In 1995, Davis’ much-praised solo debut, “Stomp Down the Rider” on Red House Records, marked the arrival of a major talent, earning acclaim for his deft acoustic playing, his well-traveled voice, and his literate, yet highly accessible songwriting. He’s barely rested since then, taking his music to television (“Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” the “Late Show with David Letterman”) and radio (“A Prairie Home Companion,” “Mountain Stage,” “World Cafe,” and “E-Town”), as well as performing at theaters and festivals. Along the way, Davis has cut nine critically-acclaimed albums for the Red House label and four for his own label, Smokeydoke Records, and was nominated for nearly a dozen Blues Awards. His parallel careers—as a musician, an author, a music teacher, and a film, television, and Broadway actor—mark Davis as a Renaissance man, yet the blues remain his first and greatest love.
Guy Davis’ performance marked the second of three Cultural Events White Mountain will host during the 2019-2020 academic year. On Friday, April 17, The Dissipated Eight, the oldest a cappella group at Middlebury College, will perform. Additional details about the Dissipated Eight performance will be released closer to the date of the show.
Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, The White Mountain School is a coeducational college-preparatory boarding and day school for 135 students grades 9-12/PG. Our mission is to be a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in an Episcopal heritage, White Mountain prepares and inspires students to lead lives of curiosity, courage, and compassion.