Because Lead Belly sang about enduring human emotions and experiences, new generations of artists continue to cover and seek inspiration from his music.
Huddie Ledbetter was born into poverty, battled racism, and did time, but in spite of his early hardships, or perhaps because of them, he became one of the great musicians of the 20th century. We trace the life and career of Lead Belly, a man praised by critics and revered by artists, whose unique music crossed a host of genres and influenced countless industry legends, from The Beatles to Led Zeppelin to Nirvana and beyond. See how his talent, humanity, and determination defeated all that stood in his way to make his voice heard, then and now.
Watch this show online now.
and hundreds more by starting your free trial of Smithsonian Channel Plus.
Access even more free Smithsonian Channel full episodes and documentaries online through participating TV providers.
Find out if your television provider carries Smithsonian Channel.
Don't panic! It's simple to upgrade to the latest version of one of these browsers:
Don't panic! To get the best possible experience on smithsonianchannel.com we recommend you upgrade your operating system.
For the best possible site experience, please use Chrome for Android.
Add username "SmithsonianChan" on Snapchat for fun and fascinating facts. We'll be sharing spontaneous photos and videos as inspiration strikes.