Thursday, October 11, 2012

Blues Roots: Leadbelly

There was one time I saw someone on the usually very liberal political website Daily Kos arguing that once a person kills another person they have given up the right to be treated like a human and so should face the death penalty. The person arguing this was NOT a rabid Republican. Nor is support of the death penalty only a radical Republican position (I do not oppose it per se, merely the horrible and unfair way it is applied). But the statement was horrible and I responded by asking if THIS person had given up the right to be treated like a human:


 Leadbelly (Huddie William Ledbetter) was a founding force for a great deal of modern music. For those who have no room in their heart for people serving prison terms, Leadbelly was sentenced to at least two prison terms. The first was for illegal gun possession (he escaped from that prison term), and the second for killing a relative, ostensibly over a woman. He was pardoned from his murder sentence partly because of his musical talent. Is it right that he only served seven years for killing a man? Perhaps not, but his pardon allowed him to set the foundations for modern music from blues to R and B to Rock and Roll. I believe American music would have been far less than it was without this one man's voice.


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