Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter was an American blues and folk singer and musician. He was born in 1889 and died in 1949. He lived a tough life, having been twice convicted of murder and both times he was pardoned due to his singing. In his early life he was a wandering musician and worked as a labourer when he had to. During his 2nd prison term for murder he was discovered by folklorists John and Alan Lomax, who arganised his release and recorded many of his songs. Although Lead Belly died before his music received the recognition that he deserved he influenced many other musicians, such as Pete Seeger, Lonnie Donegan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Ram Jam, and The White Stripes. He was a great musician and singer whose talent shines through the rather poor quality recordings.
The Titanic was a popular African-American folk song. Jack Johnson, referred to in the song, was the first African-American world heavyweight boxing champion. While the song suggests that he was refused passage on The Titanic due to his race, this is not true because Johnson had already returned to American the year before The Titanic sailed.
You can buy The Titanic on iTunes.
You can follow Lead Belly on the Lead Belly Foundation website, on the Leadbelly blog, on the 12 String King website, on Facebook and on Twitter. You can buy his music on iTunes as Lead Belly, as Leadbelly, as Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter, and as Huddie Ledbetter.