About Lead Belly Life

(January 20, 1889 – December 6, 1949)

Lead Belly

Huddie William Ledbetter (January 20, 1889 – December 6, 1949) was an American folk and blues musician, and multi-instrumentalist, notable for his strong vocals, virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the songbook of folk standards he introduced.

He is best known as Lead Belly. Though many releases list him as "Leadbelly," he spelled it "Lead Belly." This is also the usage on his tombstone,[1][2] as well as of the Lead Belly Foundation.[3] In 1994 the Lead Belly Foundation...

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Latest News


Los Angeles Exhibit pays tribute to Lead Belly

Mar 09, 2014

*Los Angeles – The William Grant Still Arts Center presented “I Got My Pride”-The Blues Ta...


Lead Belly Turns 125

Nov 29, 2013

January 20th, 2014, marks 125th birthday of Huddie, better known as Lead Belly, the matchless fig...


Smithsonian Folkways Podcast Sound Session with Lead Belly Archivist

Nov 29, 2013

Smithsonian Folkways Sound Sessions podcast sat down with Lead Belly archivist Alvin Singh to dis...

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Although, Lead Belly most commonly played the twelve-string, he could also play the piano, mandolin, harmonica, violin, and accordion.

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Pete Seeger speaks briefly about Lead Belly
Lead Belly