This Week in Texas Music History: Lead Belly
This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll honor one of the most influential musicians in American history.
Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly, was born January 21, 1888, near Mooringsport, Louisiana. When he was a child, his family moved to Texas. Lead Belly traveled throughout East Texas playing music in saloons and on street corners. While living in Dallas’s “Deep Ellum” neighborhood, he performed with Blind Lemon Jefferson and other prominent Texas artists. By the 1930s, Lead Belly was serving time in Louisiana’s Angola prison when Texas folklorist John Lomax convinced the warden to release the singer. Soon, Lomax was organizing national tours for Lead Belly and recording what would become some of his best-known tunes.
Lead Belly helped inspire the folk music movement of the 1950s and 1960s by profoundly influencing such white folk singers as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll meet one of the most successful yet least well-known musicians ever to come from the Lone Star State.