Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Yahoo LAUNCHCAST Song Of The Day-Leadbelly
I guess the way to look at legendary folksinger Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter is that he was a musical accident that reshaped American folk music as we know it today. So many of his songs are standards today and he was a major influence on other legends like Woody Guthrie & Pete Seeger. He was born Jan. 20, 1888 in Mooringsport, LA. He showed an early interest in music and by age 16 had moved to Shreveport to perform part time and work as a farm worker. He moved with his wife to Dallas in 1910 and met Blind Lemon Jefferson and they started working together. He moved back to Louisiana in 1915 and somehow wound up in a prison chain gang. He escaped and moved to Texas and lived under the name Walter Boyd. But he was arrested and convicted of murder in 1917 and sent to prison. He continued to sing in prison and actually earned a pardon by singing for the governor of Texas in 1925. By 1930, he was again back in prison for an assault. He applied for release in 1933 and was told that he would be released the next year if Governor O.K. Allen approved it. Meanwhile, Library Of Congress musicologist John Lomax and his son Alan Lomax were looking for singers to record in the field and they went to Angola Prison to see Leadbelly. Those are the recordings that are on this Rounder release. That's how the legend of Leadbelly was born and he became famous. Here's a video of Governor O.K. Allen by Leadbelly.