Huddie William Ledbetter (January 20, 1888 – December 6, 1949), better known as Lead Belly, was an American musician. His strong, passionate vocals and unusually low 12-string guitar brought life and colour to hundreds of traditional folk songs, taking them from the playgrounds, camps, prisons, churches and dancehalls and immortalising them on tape under the wing of John and Alan Lomax. As well as composing many of his own works, he recorded countless traditional folk songs, often preceding their performance with spoken introductions and remarks, thus immortalising their history and imbuing them with culture and relevance.
Dreadbelly is a project designed to bring new life to those songs with new, original music arranged in a dub/reggae style. Most of the samples used are taken from Smithsonian Folkways’ Last Sessions recordings. In no way has Lead Belly’s voice been auto-tuned, pitch-shifted or otherwise “corrected” – so to preserve the verve, character and emotion in his voice. As I finish songs, I will post them on this site with their accompanying background and any other information I can find.