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Louisiana Music History: Materials in Special Collections


Huddie William “Lead Belly” Ledbetter was a Louisiana folk and blues musician born January 1888 or 1889 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Though he was skilled with a variety of instruments, he is most famous for his performance on a 12-string guitar. His musical style is speculated to have been largely inspired by his time in Louisiana and Texas, and his lyrics covered a variety of topics: from racism and prison work to significant political figures to life as a cowboy. There are several theories regarding his nickname. Some believe that it could be a nod to his toughness, to his ability to drink homemade moonshine, or to buckshot lodged in his abdomen. Lead Belly died in New York City on December 6, 1949. LSU Special Collections houses several published materials pertaining to his life and music, as well as video and audio performances. 

Key Catalog Terms

Listed below are some recommended catalog key terms for searching for Lead Belly. Full steps on how to use these key terms can be found on this LibGuide's homepage.

Huddie William Ledbetter
Lead Belly

Key Subject Headings

Listed below are some recommended subject headings for searching for Lead Belly. Full steps on how to use these subject headings can be found on this LibGuide's homepage.

African American musicians -- Biography.
African American singers -- Collectibles.
Blues (Music)
Blues musicians -- Collectibles -- United States.
Blues musicians -- United States -- Biography.
Leadbelly, 1885-1949.
Leadbelly, 1885-1949 -- Collectibles.

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