Huddie Ledbetter – a.k.a. Lead Belly (or Leadbelly) – was a sharecropper’s son who became a legendary American folksinger.
Born on a Louisiana plantation in 1888, he learned to play the guitar and started earning money with it as a teenager. But his music was first recorded while he was in prison (by musicologist John Lomax for the Library of Congress).
Lead Belly would popularize such songs as “Goodnight, Irene,” “Rock Island Line” and “Midnight Special.” He influenced folk musicians of every subsequent generation.
A Lead Belly recording of “Shout On” is available as a FREE MP3. Click here to hear it on my Vox blog. To download it from Amazon.com, follow this link.
All 14 tracks of the 2008 album “A Sound Legacy: 60 Years of Folkways Records and 20 Years of Smithsonian Folkways” – including recordings by Bill Monroe, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger – are free to download from Amazon. (For the time being, at least.)