Friday, November 03, 2006

Leadbelly one of North Louisiana's most famous performers

Huddie Ledbetter, whose prison nickname was Leadbelly, was a songster from Mooringsport who was called the Father of American Folk Music.

He spent many years in prison in Texas and Louisiana for felonious assault. But he was a charming performer, and when he was released from Angola State Prison he hitched a ride to NYC with folklorist Alan Lomax. There he was a hit with the media, professor-types and college students. He setlled in the Lower East Side with a wife from Shreveport, Martha Promise Ledbetter. He mostly performed at colleges and in blues clubs in Greenwich Village.

In the 1930's and 40's he made records that touched people across the globe by their descriptive lyrics ("Old cottonfields back home"), distinctive melodies ("Goodnight, Irene), rhythmic intensity ("Midnight Special," "Rock Island Line") and mystery ("Black girl / In the pines").

He is buried at Shiloh Church near Mooringsport.