"Whether or not it sounds foolish to you, he plays with absolute sincerity."

“two-time murderer who sang his way out of prison,

The Snow Fox Will

Change Life

While behind bars, Lead Belly was exposed to prison folk songs, and ended up writing a song of his own dedicated to Texas Governor Pat Neff, who was “delighted,” as The Life and Legend recounts. The Governor was so taken by Lead Belly that he granted the singer a “full pardon” in January 1925. Lead Belly was subsequently released from Sugarland Penitentiary.

But the blues singer was known for his temper, which once again got him in trouble with the law when, back in Louisiana, he slashed a white man named Dick Ellet. The victim survived, but Lead Belly was once again sent to prison. He served his time doing hard labor at the notoriously rough Angola prison, where he was later “discovered” by John and Alan Lomax, a father-son team of folk music archivists.

The Midnight Special and
Other Southern Prison Songs

The Midnight Special and Other Southern Prison Songs is an album by Lead Belly and the Golden Gate Quartet, recorded for Victor Records in Camden, New Jersey in 1940 and released in 1941.

RELEASED 

1941

GENRE

Folk, Blues

Track List

Those who met him were fascinated by this “two-time murderer who sang his way out of prison.

 

Musician Tom Chapin