The Life and Legend of Lead Belly

The Life and Legend of Lead Belly

by Kip Lornell, Charles K. Wolfe

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Well researched and thoughtful, this biography depicts the career of Huddie ``Leadbelly'' Ledbetter (1888-1949), among the most influential of American folksingers. Folk music enthusiasts will be familiar with the highlights of Leadbelly's life--how his music earned him a pardon from prison, how folk-music experts John and Alan Lomax discovered and promoted him, how songs he either wrote or embellished (``Goodnight Irene'' and ``Midnight Special,'' for example) have become an integral part of American musical tradition--but it is the level of detail that Wolfe and Lornell bring forward that makes this book a standout. Leadbelly's early years in Louisiana and Texas, his introduction to music and his life in prison are portrayed in a fast-paced style that lends immediacy to the book. The introduction to the Lomaxes, Leadbelly's foray into New York society, his eventual estrangement from John Lomax and his recording and performance career are equally well chronicled in this notable effort. Wolfe is an English professor at Middle Tennessee University; Lornell is a consultant for the Leadbelly Archives at the Smithsonian. Photos not seen by PW. (Dec.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Memo to Spike Lee: For your next film, consider the story of a black man born on the edge of the frontier in the waning days of the wild West. He was strong, handsome, and a talented musician, but mixing wine, women, and song led him to a Texas penitentiary to do time for murder. After a few years, this resourceful fellow won a pardon by performing a specially written song for the governor. His freedom proved short-lived, however; his attack on a ``splendid white citizen'' led to a stretch in Louisiana's notorious Angola State Penitentiary. Here, he was discovered by folklorist John Lomax, who recorded him for the Library of Congress and then won his release. Leadbelly spent the last 15 years of his life cementing his reputation as the foremost curator of America's musical heritage. If this incredible story of sex, violence, redemption, and the history of American folk music sounds interesting, add it to your music collections.-- Dan Bogey, Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, Pa.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
6.11(w) x 11.11(h) x 1.11(d)

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