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Huddie “LeadBelly” Ledbetter Letters

Huddie “LeadBelly” Ledbetter Letters

This lot is a fascinating, extremely rare find. No Leadbelly signatures have appeared at auction for 22+ years. The letter is very fragile, ink slightly faded, but the letterhead, content, and rarity make it an outstanding value. “LeadBelly” was a happy-go-lucky wanderer, born on a Louisiana plantation. Discovered while he was in prison by folklorist, John Lomax & his son, Alan Lomax (famed ethnomusicologist), LeadBelly was granted a pardon after 7 years of imprisonment and became a sensation in the North. This blossomed into quite a career. LeadBelly recorded Good Night Irene, The Midnight Special, Rock Island Line, & Take This Hammer in New York. This incredible archive relates to Huddie and includes a possibly unique letter on “Sweet Singer of the Swamplands” stationary, plus approximately 40 pages, which act as an archive of Alan Lomax. The letter, dated Nov 6, 1941 contains two pictures of LeadBelly performing. In one, he plays his 12-string guitar sitting on a barrel. In the other, he “Gun Tap Dances”. LeadBelly writes to his cousin (childhood chum who taught Huddie to play guitar): Dear Edmon Leadbetter, How are you this time? I hope you are well and Alice and the kids. Hows are them two boys? Tell them I say hello. You be sure to take care of them boys. They are onefull. I have been sick in the hospital but I am up and doing fine. Hope you are all fine. I didn’t send that suit because it would have been too large for you. Here is some pictures from a party the peoples gave for me las’ Sunday. Write me. Until I hear from you. So long.” The Lomax archive includes original letters, carbons, corrected drafts, & accounting sheets, mostly from 1951.


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