A Moment in Music History

Posted: October 2, 2013 in World On The Edge

Appalachian dulcimer
Dulcimer (UP).jpg

I love the sound of the dulcimer. It pricks at my Appalachian roots. I can almost see and hear my back country Carolina ancestors playing it and singing bluegrass music.

A few years ago, at Christmas, I gave my oldest daughter, who now lives in New Orleans,  a very old handmade dulcimer. It was beautiful. I gave it to her because she is gifted in music– so is her husband, and they’ve passed their gifts to their sons.  When Katrina hit in 2005, her family came home for a while. Not knowing what would happen to their house in New Orleans, my daughter brought a few precious things with her. One of them was the dulcimer I’d given her.

The following video is of Huddie Ledbetter, known as Leadbelly. He was a master of the twelve string dulcimer. And he spent some long years in Louisiana, too–in prison at Angola.

But talent cannot be imprisoned, and Leadbelly did not keep his talent under-wraps. In fact, it was because of his talent that he was finally freed. He had a volatile past, but he’s probably one of the only men in prison who made an album for children, explaining what he knew best—the music of his time.

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