How many songwriters could say that their songs have been recorded by The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra and Nirvana? Had he lived longer, Huddie William Ledbetter (1888-1949) could have. Ledbetter, known as Lead Belly, endured a difficult life – including various stays in jail – to introduce or adapt to the Great American Songbook tunes that are still well-known today such as “The Midnight Special,” “Goodnight, Irene,” “Black Betty” and “Cotton Fields.” On February 24, Smithsonian Folkways releases Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, a 5-CD, large-format book-style box set celebrating its subject’s life and artistry.
Folkways’ career-spanning retrospective box set for the 1988 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee includes five compact discs with 108 tracks (16 previously unreleased) totaling 5 hours of music. Pete Reiniger has restored and remastered all tracks. The 140-page booklet boasts historic photos and extensive notes by Jeff Place and Robert Santelli expected from the label that has presented similar packages for artists such as Woody Guthrie. The project was produced in collaboration with the Lead Belly Estate, The John Reynolds Collection/Lead Belly Society, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Check out the details from The Second Disc: Folkways Celebrates Lead Belly With New Box Set