Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A free Lead Belly download

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, 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.)


Don said...

I'm not completely schooled on his music, but I have heard a couple of tracks in my lifetime.

Enjoyed the read and facts.

MacDaddy said...

I was just in an argument with a friend of mine. He thinks he knows everything about music. He said "Midnight Special" was done by Johnny Cash and I said Leadbelly. I'm sending him to your blog.

dickster1961 said...

I love listening to old blues. I had not heard much from Leadbelly, but I will have to check out the download. John Lomax's son Allan also worked on the Library of Congress recordings and recorded McKinley Morganfeld (AKA Muddy Waters) in 1941.

C. said...

Love Leadbelly, love Blues music. Mostly prewar blues, recorded before world war two. I have over 400 albums. Son House, Charley Patton, Bessie smith, Ma Rainey, you name it.

Undercover Black Man said...

Dick: I've long thought that the Lomaxes and Moe Asch had the coolest jobs of the 20th Century. America owes those guys a lot.

dickster1961 said...

I agree. I remember reading a Muddy Waters biography and Muddy said Lomax came to his house to do the recordings. A lot of this music would have been lost if not for those guys.