header image

Filene, Benjamin, “’Our Singing Country’: John and Alan Lomax, Leadbelly, and the Construction of an American Past”

Benjamin Filene wrote about the Lomaxes  We could say from the reading is the Lomaxes  made music what it is today.  I would compare him to P Diddy.  This is because he took artists and evolved them.  He took people which had nothing and made something out of them.  Lomax did the same.  He took Leadbelly after Leadbelly served time in prison and turned him into a star.  Leadbelly was and is one of the most iconic artists of all time.


Lomax was also the mentor of many other artists which impacted the music industry.  As time went on everything evolves.  Subjects spoken about in music changed completely and the images of artists changed.  Lomax was a smart man he took an African American man and pushed his craft as an artist.  By doing this he wasn’t scared to be different.  It takes one person to take a chance and change the world.


He had leadbelly singing about the same topics and subjects as white folks.  His purpose was to show that everyone is equal.  He hoped others listening would see the same vision as he did.  Leadbelly was an anxious ambitious artist who was willing to do whatever it took to become known around America.  The lomaxes took leadbelly around the world and specifically over to New York to expand his career. 


He wanted the entire world to hear Leadbellys folk music.  The Lomaxes saw Leadbelly as the “voice of the people”.  However I don’t like the fact that they depicted him as a convict and an untamed animal.  He was seen as a murderer and a man who was all for sex and violence.  But other than that Lomax made Leadbelly a well known man and still is responsible for the way the music industry turned out today.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

~ by theblog on October 4, 2010.

3 Responses to “Filene, Benjamin, “’Our Singing Country’: John and Alan Lomax, Leadbelly, and the Construction of an American Past””

  1. I feel that this happens so often in the music industry, the managers/producers/record labels/Lomaxes all try and produce a talent how they want them to be seen. They control the songs you sing, the clothes you wear, your entire image and what just to control you and take the money that you make by using you own talent. It’s crazy how they were doing it then and still do it today. To be true to yourself and your music – produce independently!

  2. ^^ In regards to the comment above, I feel that there’s risk at producing a record independently and be known as an ‘indie’ (e.g Lower sales vs. one who signs to a record company, not known as “top 40 material”, and the music listener’s lack of knowledge of the band because of less platforms to spread the word like popular radio stations or an official site) but that challenge (if done right) can lead to rewards if they become popular enough from for example: touring and performing at promotional events.

    So either road you take, independent or record company deal, there will be challenges to face.

  3. I feel that by having someone like Ledbelly sing song wit hsimilar subject matter as white people was a definate way to help blur the lines that kept blacks and whites seperate. Now a white person could hear music and identify with a black singer, giving himself a sense of commonality with Ledbelly, maybe even helping to establish a sense of like-minded struggles between the two groups.

    I do find it unfortunate that Ledbelly example of early marketing, portraying him as a hardend criminal despite having long been released, was unfortunate. However, almost 100 years after we have contemporary artists who overuse the fact that they too have done time in prison as a selling point for image conveyance and to ligitimize whatever they may represent or express. It was through this imagry that more people were able to firmly take root into what he was singing about.

Leave a Reply


Spam prevention powered by Akismet

Skip to toolbar