Lead Belly [inducted 1988], one of the most influential musicians of the twentieth century was the honoree for the 9th annual American Music Masters series. Lead Belly lived a life that included brutalizing poverty and long stretches in prison to become an emblem of authentic American music. He is renowned for his songs - the best known of which include “Rock Island Line,” “Goodnight, Irene,” “The Midnight Special” and “Cotton Fields” - as well as his prowess on the 12-string guitar. In his sixty-plus years, he essentially lived two distinctly different lives: first, as a field worker, blues singer, rambling man and prisoner in the rural South; second, as a city-dwelling folksinger, performer and recording artist in the urban North.
Sunday, November 7
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss performed onstage together for the first time to honor Lead Belly. In 2009, the pair was awarded the highest honors of Album of the Year for Raising Sand and Record of the Year for Please Read the Letter at the 51st annual Grammy awards.
On Saturday, November 6, Oscar Brand and Josh White, Jr. performed at the Beachland Ballroom
On Saturday, November 6, Jon Langford, the Tarbox Ramblers and Dan Zanes and Friends performed at the Beachland Ballroom.
On Sunday afternoon, Dan Zanes and Friends performed at Harkness Chapel on CWRU campus.
On Thursday, November 4, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened a Lead Belly Exhibit in the Ahmet M. Ertegun Exhibition Hall. Roots of American Music performed.
On Wednesday, November 3, Kip Lornell, co-author of The Life and Legend of Leadbelly discussed his book and Lead Belly as cultural icon.
On Tuesday, November 2, American blues and reggae musician Corey Harris performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's 4th Floor Theatre.
On Monday, November 1, the Cleveland Cinemateque screened the documentary Leadbelly, directed by Gordon Park.