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Lead Belly


Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly, bridged the gap between folk and blues, black and white. A master singer who brought life to the lyrics that comprised his song-stories, Lead Belly had no use for boundaries. His repertoire included old folk standards, gospel tunes, hardened blues, children's numbers, protest songs, and anything that documented broken hearts and lives. Lead Belly was born and raised in Louisiana, where he learned to sing and play the guitar, ultimately settling on the 12-string. His early days were spent working in and around Shrevesport, but run-ins with the law finally caught up with him in 1917 when he was accused of killing a man. As an inmate at the infamous Angola Prison Farm in Louisiana, Lead Belly met song collectors John and Alan Lomax. They heard Lead Belly sing and persuaded the warden to pardon him. Using this opportunity to get out of the South, Lead Belly worked for the Lomax family in New York, where he fell in with Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and other left-of-center folkies, and became a noted performer. Lead Belly's "Good Night Irene" artfully captured his husky vocal style and penchant for writing songs steeped in the folk tradition, yet bluesy in their feel. A year after Lead Belly's death in 1949, the folk group the Weavers, led by Seeger, turned "Good Night Irene" into a Number One pop hit.

Courtesy of palmpictures.com

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