It is great that the 125th anniversary of Leadbelly’s birth is being commemorated with a five CD boxed set from the Smithsonian and a Kennedy Center retrospective on April 25. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss will headline the show.
This is from a very good story last month in The New York Times:
Lead Belly, who died in 1949, cast a giant shadow on the music that followed him, directly influencing performers from Mr. Dylan to Kurt Cobain with his versatility, his gravelly voice full of power and emotion, and his pioneering 12-string guitar style. Even his image and marketing, often emphasizing his criminal past, provided a blueprint for the presentation of hip-hop and rock artists decades later.
Above is Leadbelly singing “New York City” over 1903 video of the city filmed by the Lumiere Brothers, who were considered to be the first filmmakers.