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nickname of

Huddie William Ledbetter,

1885–1949, American singer, b. Mooringsport, La. While wandering through Louisiana and Texas, he earned a living by playing the guitar for dances. For a time he joined with Blind Lemon Jefferson, the blues singer, who influenced his future style. Leadbelly's blues and work songs are a survival of the earliest African-American music (see jazzjazz,
the most significant form of musical expression of African-American culture and arguably the most outstanding contribution the United States has made to the art of music. Origins of Jazz

Jazz developed in the latter part of the 19th cent.
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). He was jailed in 1918 for murder and put on a chain gang; he was pardoned in 1925 but was again put in jail for attempted murder (1930–34) and for assault (1939–40). The folklorist John A. LomaxLomax, John Avery
, 1867–1948, American folklorist, b. Goodman, Miss. Lomax's first book, Cowboy Songs (1910), contained for the first time in print such songs as "The Old Chisholm Trail," "Git Along Home Little Dogies," and "Home on the Range.
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 discovered Leadbelly in prison and used his songs for a book, Negro Folk Songs as Sung by Lead Belly (1936). In the 1940s Leadbelly made numerous nightclub appearances, accompanying himself on his 12-string guitar; in 1949 he made a concert tour in France.
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real name Huddie Ledbetter. 1888--1949, US blues singer and guitarist
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


See Ledbetter, Huddie.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Lead Belly was wary of labor unions and loved commercial music, but to the Communist Party activists who became his champions, he was a vessel for their theory that "authentic" black and working-class Americans were natural proponents of socialist dogmas.
"I loved the song 'Gallows Pole' by Zeppelin, and later learned it to be a Lead Belly tune.
Legendary musicologist Alan Lomax hired him to transcribe songs from the Library of Congress collection and introduced him to Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter, who, in turn, exposed Seeger to the 12-string guitar and a vibrant universe of black American music.
In 1949 Seeger founded The Weavers with Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert, and Fred Hellerman, and the group's recordings of Lead Belly's "Goodnight Irene," as well as Woody Guthrie's "So Long (It's Been Good to Know Yuh)," quickly became folk standards.
Promoting his new album, Let Them Talk, Laurie begins each song with an explanation of its origins, and gives us delights from a host of legends including Lead Belly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Leroy Carr.
Promoting his new album, Let Them Talk, Laurie gives us delights from a host of legends including Lead Belly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Leroy Carr.
They gave themselves titles like Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Lead Belly and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, names that seemed to spring from some mythic Southern hamlet that Zora Neale Hurston might have chronicled in a story or novel.
Among the tunes he would play was Lead Belly's Rock Island Line, which became Donegan's first chart hit in 1956, reaching number eight.
This was especially prevalent on White Lightning, The Classical, and a riproaring cover of Lead Belly's Bourgeois Blues when, as the band screamed out at full throttle, Smith gazed into the middle distance, face masked with complete indifference, his arms folded or slouched with left hand pegged to his skinny waistband.
Prominent in that pile of vinyl were recordings by Lead Belly, boogie-woogie pianist Meade Lux Lewis and Josh White, in other words a pretty broad sweep across the genre.
He is best known as Lead Belly. Although Lead Belly usually played the twelve-string guitar, he could also play the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, and Cajun accordion ("windjammer").
He fell in love with Armstrong and Bessie Smith, along with Lead Belly and Bing Crosby, his major vocal influences.