Archive for July 2020

We continue our way through the life of Leadbelly in Part 4. In this episode we see Leadbelly make a plea for a pardon with his music, and watch as he tries adjusting to life outside of prison. As hard as he tries starting life anew, he finds himself once again behind bars, this time in Angola, known as the Alcatraz of the South, one of the bloodiest prisons in US history.

 

We finally meet John Lomax and his son Allen who would become key figures in Leadbelly’s life as they traveled the South searching for American folk music to preserve for the Library of Congress. We clear up some Leadbelly myth with primary sources, learn a bit about the earliest attempts at musical preservation through recording, and even get to hear a 130-year-old Passamaquoddy war song recorded by anthropologist Jesse Walker Fewkes.

The adventure continues.

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Music and murder collide in the third installment of the series highlighting the life of one of America’s greatest musical legends: Leadbelly. Ledbetter was already a fugitive when he murdered Will Stafford on a dirt road in Texas. No longer able to run from the law, Huddie faced difficult times in the brutal early 20th century prison system where he wrote some of his most profound music. But Leadbelly wouldn’t go down without a fight (and at least two more prison breaks). In this episode, we explore the next chapter of his life, as well as learn the dark history of convict leasing and why the remains of 95 inmates, known as the “Sugarland 95,” lie buried just below the surface of a small, Texas town.

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