As an artist, Lead Belly wrote, performed, and recorded over 500 songs. From children’s songs to prison songs—folk, blues and ballads—experience his discography here.

Date: 1939

Label: Musicraft

Genre: Blues

Date: 1940

Label: Victor

Genre: Blues

Date: 1943

Label: Disc Records

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1950

Label: Folkways Records

Genre: Blues

Date: 1952

Label: Folkways Records

Genre: Blues

Date: 1951

Label: Folkways Records

Genre: Blues

Date: 1952

Label: Stinson Records

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1952

Label: Stinson Records

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1952

Label: Stinson Records

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1952

Label: Stinson Records

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1953

Label: Folkways Records

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1953

Label: Folkways Records

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1953

Label: Capitol Records

Genre: Jazz, Folk, & Country

Date: 1953

Label: Folkways Records

Genre: Blues

Date: 1954

Label: Royale

Genre: Blues

Date: 1958

Label: Melodisc

Genre: Blues

Date: 1959

Label: Melodisc

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1959

Label: Melodisc

Genre: Jazz

Date: 1960

Label: Folkways Records

Genre: Blues, Children, & Folk

Date: 1961

Label: Melodisc

Genre: Blues

Date: 1962

Label: Folkways Records

Genre: Blues

Date: 1962

Label: Folkways Records

Genre: Blues

Date: 1962

Label: Capitol Records

Genre: Blues

Date: 1962

Label: Folkways Records 

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1962

Label: Stinson Records

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1964

Label: Mount Vernon Music

Genre: Blues

Date: 1964

Label: Design Records

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1964

Label: RCA Victor

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1965

Label: Verve Folkways 

Genre: Blues, Folk, Country

Date: 1965

Label: Verve Folkways

Genre: Blues

Date: 1965

Label: Sutton

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1965

Label: Archive of Folk Music

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1970

Label: Columbia

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1972

Label: Folkways Records

Genre: Jazz, Blues, & Folk, 

Date: 1973

Label: Playboy Records

Genre: Blues

Date: 1976

Label: Folkways Records

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1989

Label: BMG Music

Genre: Blues

Date: 1989

Label: Celtic Music

Genre: Folk, World, & Country

Date: 1991

Label: Rounder Records

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1992

Label: Collectables

Genre: Folk, World & Country

Date: 1996

Label: Tradition

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 1996

Label: Magnum America

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 2000

Label: Document Records

Genre: Blues

Date: 2004

Label: Document Records

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

Date: 2005

Label: Smithsonian Folkways

Genre: Folk, World, & Country

Date: 2007

Label: Stardust Records

Genre: Blues

Date: 2014

Label: Origin Jazz Library 

Genre: Blues

Date: 2017

Label: JSP Records

Genre: Blues, Folk, & Country

A look into some of the record labels that shined a light into Lead Belly’s career, showcasing his music to the world for all generations to hear.

1934-1943

John and Alan Lomax, who initially discovered Lead Belly, made the first ever recordings of him. The Library of Congress,  a research library that works for the United States Congress, archived these recordings. They were then released by Rounder Records, which include Midnight Special (1991), Gwin Dig a Hole to Put the Devil In (1991), Let It Shine on Me (1991), The Titanic (1994) and many more.

1940-1964

Victor Records was founded by Eldridge R. Johnson, who was an engineer at the time making gramophones. In 1939, after Lead Belly was imprisoned and the Lomax’s took him to New York, he was signed to Victor Records. By 1940, he began recording six sides which would then become The Midnight Special and Other Southern Prison Songs album. The album featured the Golden Gate Quartet, a vocal gospel group who accompanied Lead Belly.

1941-1947

The Folkways recordings of Lead Belly were made for Moses Asch who founded Folkways. Asch donated his entire label to the Smithsonian under the condition that each of his 2,000+ albums remain in print forever. In 1987, the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings was established. Recordings made specifically for Asch were released in a three-volume series, Where Did You Sleep Last Summer (1996), Bourgeois Blues (1997) and Shout on (1998). They also have released many other recorded collections such as Lead Belly Sings Folk Songs (1989) and Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection (2015).

1952-1963

Stinson Records was founded by Irving Prosky and Herbert Harris in 1939 and mainly focused on American Folk and Blues musicians, such as Woody Guthrie. In 1943, they establish a financial relationship with Asch Records (later Folkways and now Smithsonian Folkways) where they collaborated to release several Lead Belly albums. Some notable albums released include the Lead Belly Memorial series 1-4 (1952) and Play-Party (1952).