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Leadbelly, born Huddie William Ledbetter, is one of the most influential voices in American music. Though widely thought of as a blues musician (which, in part, he was), a direct line can be drawn from him to the folk protest music of the '60s, and from there to Bruce Springsteen and Billy Bragg. In the '40s, Leadbelly brought obscure American folk songs to white, urban audiences and helped spread the word about injustices in America. Like Woody Guthrie, he could do love or comedic songs, and he had a real knack for children's songs. He died a decade before his true impact was felt. It's never to late to pay your respects.
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