African Americans on Postage Stamps

Lead Belly

Folk Musician

32-cent Lead Belly stamp
The Lead Belly stamp was issued June 26, 1998.

Born Huddie William Ledbetter, “Lead Belly” was a folk and blues artist who was known as the “king of the 12-string guitar.” He was also a powerful singer of field and prison hollers and, as a participant in the trade union movement in the 1930s, of political protest songs. He never had much commercial success during his lifetime, but after his death in 1949, several of his songs- including “The Midnight Special,” “Cotton Fields,” “Rock Island Line,” and his trademark song, “Goodnight Irene”- became popular hits when sung by other artists.

The Black Experience