Michael Davis Pratt (born March 10, 1957) known professionally as Jim White, is a Southern American singer-songwriter and guitarist. White's music can be loosely described as alternative country, but veers off in different, sometimes experimental directions with occasional nods to Tom Waits and the literary narratives of Flannery O'Connor, Cormac McCarthy, and Harry Crews.
White was born in Pensacola, Florida to a Pentecostal family, and was influenced in his childhood by gospel music. According to various sources, he has been a comedian, a fashion model, a boxer, a preacher, a professional surfer, and a New York cab driver. Before embarking on a music career, White attended film school at New York University. Soon after finishing his lengthy thesis at the university, White entered a self-described "deep hole of sickness and depression and poverty." However, during a party organized by film school friends, White began to perform, and began writing material for an album soon afterward.
Musical career and performances
White's live shows, particularly when touring solo, can be characterized as off-beat, blending his playlist with open discussion with the audience, anecdotal storytelling derived from his own life experiences, all of which is typically humorous and insightful. He has stated during shows that ultimately he wishes to return to the academic field, particularly as a professor, rather than continue as a professional, touring musician. Much of this is due to his family life, which he has stated takes priority in his life and is the reason he does not like touring very much. His sister, Katherine Pratt, teaches at Loyola Law School.
White's albums often feature collaborations. On Wrong-Eyed Jesus, folk singer Victoria Williams sings on the track "Angel-Land"; British electronica trio Morcheeba produced and played on three tracks on No Such Place. Aimee Mann, Barenaked Ladies, and jazz guitarist Bill Frisell appear on Drill a Hole in That Substrate and Tell Me What You See, which was produced by Joe Henry, Tucker Martine, and Jim White himself. In an interview with David Byrne, White describes the making of the album. In 2006, Jim White collaborated with Johnny Dowd and Willie B and formed a group called Hellwood; in 2006, the band toured throughout Europe to promote the album Chainsaw of Life. More recently, Jim White served as producer and songwriter on a collaboration alongside Tucker Martine and blues singer Linda Delgado, on a project entitled Mama Lucky. Mama Lucky's first release 'Permanent Stranger' was released February 2009. In 2011, White produced a song, entitled "Simon Says," on Thugs and China Dolls, the sophomore record from Savannah-based singer-songwriter Dare Dukes.
Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus is a 2004 BBC documentary, directed by Andrew Douglas, in which Jim White describes his idea of the rural South. The film features performances by like-minded musicians such as The Handsome Family, David Eugene Edwards of 16 Horsepower and Johnny Dowd.