Music: After Lead Belly, Ironhead

Early last year John Avery Lomax, crack compiler of U. S. folk songs, arrived in Manhattan with a big, wild-eyed Negro known as Lead Belly (real name: Huddie Ledbetter). John Lomax' protègé was a murderer, but he was also a natural-born minstrel. From a Texas jail he won his pardon by singing a petition to onetime Governor Pat Neff. In the Louisiana swamplands his knife made more trouble. Again he was imprisoned, again got out with a song when John Lomax made a phonograph record of it, submitted it personally to the late Governor Allen.

Lead Belly was in Manhattan last week...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!