Ballroom Dancing

SXSW panels

Ballroom Dancing
Photo by Gary Miller

Lead Belly to Ludacris: From Analog to Digital

Austin Convention Center, Wednesday, March 17

In a historical presentation that included a heap of archival photographs and online video clips, Alvin Singh clarified a few points about his great-uncle Lead Belly (1888-1949). "The media was fascinated by his story, and they projected him as the murderous minstrel, the sweet singer from the swamplands singing a few tunes between homicides," the curator of the Lead Belly Foundation explained. "They liked that monster image about Lead Belly, but from what my grandmother told me, he was totally the opposite. He was somebody that recorded children's songs and loved performing for children more than anybody." Singh's grandmother began living with Lead Belly as a teenager and until recently stored many of the archives now being digitized by the Lead Belly Foundation in an old trunk. The foundation is producing a documentary on the folk/blues legend, and Singh shared a clip of Pete Seeger declaring the opening of Lead Belly's "Fannin Street (Mr. Tom Hughes' Town)" greater than Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Singh beamed while sharing stories of his famous relation singing his way out of prison and capitalized on the bottomless well of YouTube covers. True to title, the presentation closed with Ludacris riffing off Lead Belly's "Pick a Bale of Cotton."

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Alvin Singh, Lead Belly, Ludacris

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