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Leadbelly

Huddie William Ledbetter (; January 23, 1888 – December 6, 1949), better known by the stage name Lead Belly, was an American folk and blues singer, musician and songwriter notable for his strong vocals, virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the folk standards he introduced, including his renditions of "Goodnight, Irene", "Midnight Special", "Cotton Fields", and "Boll Weevil".

Lead Belly usually played a twelve-string guitar, but he also played the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, and windjammer. In some of his recordings, he sang while clapping his hands or stomping his foot.

Lead Belly's songs covered a wide range of genres and topics including gospel music; blues about women, liquor, prison life, and racism; and folk songs about cowboys, prison, work, sailors, cattle herding, and dancing. He also wrote songs about people in the news, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Adolf Hitler, Jean Harlow, Jack Johnson, the Scottsboro Boys and Howard Hughes. Lead Belly was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2008.

Though many releases credit him as "Leadbelly", he himself wrote it as "Lead Belly", which is also the spelling on his tombstone and the spelling used by the Lead Belly Foundation.

Birth and Death Data: Born January 29th, 1885 (Louisiana), Died December 6th, 1949 (New York City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1940

Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist, guitar

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor BS-051295 10-in. 6/14/1940 Pick a bale of cotton Golden Gate Quartet ; Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with male vocal quartet and guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051296 10-in. 6/14/1940 Yellow gal Golden Gate Quartet ; Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with male vocal quartet and guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051297 10-in. 6/14/1940 Whoa, back buck Golden Gate Quartet ; Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with male vocal quartet and guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051298 10-in. 6/14/1940 The Midnight Special Golden Gate Quartet ; Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with male vocal quartet and guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051299 10-in. 6/14/1940 Alabama bound Golden Gate Quartet ; Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with male vocal quartet and guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051322 10-in. 6/17/1940 Easy rider Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051323 10-in. 6/17/1940 New York City Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051324 10-in. 6/17/1940 Worried blues Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051325 10-in. 6/17/1940 Don't you love your daddy no more? Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051326 10-in. 6/17/1940 You can't lose-a me, Cholly Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051327 10-in. 6/17/1940 Grey goose Golden Gate Quartet ; Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with male vocal quartet vocalist  
Victor BS-051329 10-in. 6/17/1940 Stewball Golden Gate Quartet ; Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with male vocal quartet and guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051331 10-in. 6/17/1940 Can't you line 'em Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with male vocal quartet vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051332 10-in. 6/17/1940 Julienne Johnson Golden Gate Quartet ; Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with male vocal quartet and guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051333 10-in. 6/17/1940 Ham an' eggs Golden Gate Quartet ; Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with male vocal quartet vocalist  
Victor BS-051500 10-in. 6/14/1940 Rock Island Line Golden Gate Quartet ; Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with male vocal quartet vocalist  
Victor BS-051501 10-in. 6/15/1940 Good morning blues Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051502 10-in. 6/15/1940 Leaving blues Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051503 10-in. 6/15/1940 T. B. blues Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051504 10-in. 6/15/1940 The Red Cross Store blues Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051505 10-in. 6/15/1940 Sail on, little girl, sail on Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051506 10-in. 6/15/1940 Roberta Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051507 10-in. 6/15/1940 Alberta Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Victor BS-051508 10-in. 6/15/1940 I'm on my last go-round Leadbelly Male vocal solo, with guitar vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Leadbelly," accessed August 1, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102558.

Leadbelly. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved August 1, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102558.

"Leadbelly." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 1 August 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102558

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