The Georgia & Nolan Payton Archive of Sacred Musicconsists of music, books, periodicals, documents, audio & visual materials, and oral histories. The primary goal of the Archive is to facilitate research and documentation of collections of African Diaspora sacred music (church music and religious concert music) created and/or performed by the multicultural population of Southern California.
Dr. Don Lee White (d. 2010)
Photo: Don Lee White at the 2010 Living Legends Festival.
Don Lee White, a native of Los Angeles, California, attended Los Angeles City College, California State University Los Angeles, University of Southern California and completed additional graduate work at Stanford University.
He served as organist for New Hope Baptist Church before accepting the position as college organist and Professor of Music at Prairie View A. & M. for five years. On his return to Los Angeles, he was selected to be the organist/director of Grant African Methodist Church, Los Angeles, serving there for more than 38 years. He has been recognized as a rare musical genius for his masterful performance as an organist, director, arranger and composer. Under his leadership, the adult choir of Grant A.M.E. Church gained substantial recognition for their versatility in music and professional performances throughout the United States and has several recordings. The choir has performed the major composition of Adolphus Halistork, "Done Made My Vows," the "Christmas Oratorio" by Camille Saint-Saens, the "Ordering of Moses" by R. Nathaniel Dett and the "Messiah" by George Frideric Handel.
He was professor of music at California State University Los Angeles for 27 years reaching organ, piano, choral music, conducting, and music appreciation. Dr. White compiled and edited compositions by Black Americans, for the Afro-American Hymnal. In 1984, he was awarded the Honorary Doctorate from the University of Monrovia, West Africa.
Dr. White served as director of music for the Southern California Conference Fifth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Church for 15 years and served eight years as associate director for the Connectional Music Department for the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
In 1988, after requesting a leave from Grant A.M.E. Church, he organized the Don L. White Community Chorale. The Chorale is dedicated to singing the extended compositions of African American composers. The Chorale has sung for the following: Wilshire United Methodist Church, Pasadena Presbyterian Church, Founders Church of Religious Science, the Georgia Laster Branch, NANM (Annual Concert of Spirituals), First A.M.E. Zion Church, Zion Hill Baptist Church and the City of Carson. The Chorale has also performed in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Mormon Tabernacle in Temple Square.
Dr. White is known as a clinician and in great demand nationally for lectures, workshops and demonstrations. He was the associate music director and organist for the Ministers' Conference at Hampton, Virginia. He was also guest conductor for the Southwest Symphony Orchestra and choir and guest organ soloist with the Southeast Symphony Orchestra, performing the Saint Saens "Organ Symphony."
As active member and past vice-president of the National Association of Negro Musicians; a member of the Georgia Laster Branch; the American Guild of Organist, Los Angeles Chapter; American Chorale Directors Associations; and the Southeast Symphony Association.
Dr. White prefers anthems, cantatas, and opera. “The smooth performance of the classical sacred music is something the musicians of today should strive to keep alive and valued for future generations”