This collection contains the papers, photographs, videos, and musical recordings related to organist, conductor, and musicologist
Dr. Don Lee White. The collection documents African-American church music, church history, and the evolution of spiritual
music in African-American churches. It also includes several compilations of hymns along with audio and video recordings of
church and classical performances.
Don Lee White was born in Los Angeles, CA, on October 25, 1926 and attended both Los Angeles City College and California State
University, Los Angeles before earning his Master’s degree in Music in 1958 from the University of Southern California (USC)
where he majored in Church Music. White completed some graduate work towards his doctorate in Musical Arts at both USC and
Stanford University, and was given an honorary doctorate in 1984 by the University of Monrovia, West Africa. In his early
career, White was a professor of music and the college organist at Prairie View A&M University in Texas for five years. Upon
his return to Los Angeles he taught organ, piano, choral music, conducting and music appreciation at California State University,
Los Angeles for 27 years. White also served as the organist and musical director of the Grant African Methodist Church, Los
Angeles, for over 38 years. Under his leadership, the Grant A.M.E. adult choir achieved national recognition for their musical
versatility. They performed throughout the United States and recorded several albums. In 1988, White took a leave of absence
from Grant A.M.E. and organized the D.L.W. Community Chorale, whose purpose is to perform the extended compositions of African
American composers. White was an active member in many music organizations, among them the National Association of Negro Musicians
and the American Chorale Directors Association. In addition he was often requested to give lectures and workshops across the
country. He passed away on September 16, 2010.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Archives
and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical
materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.