Folk-Blues music is a musical genre that is usually played on non-electric musical instruments such as the banjo, harmonica, and the mandolin which gives off the folk appellation. Folk-blues evokes the sound and image of a rough-hewn born of southern plantations, juke joints and house frolics. Black artists have contributed a great amount to the history of American folk music, from slave spirituals to songs of the civil rights, gospel songs and beyond. Many of these genres embody the struggle, empowerment, human rights and perseverance of the African American community.

 One of the most influential African American folk-blues artists was Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly).  Leadbelly’s most famous hit songs was “Goodnight Irene”. Although, he had learned the song from his uncle, its origins lead back to a song written by African American songwriter, Gussie L. Davis in 1889. After Leadbelly’s fame from the song in the 1940s, a White folk group known as The Weavers picked it up and hit number one in 1950 after Leadbelly’s death.

By: Imani Whyte-Boyd and Monica

Examples of Folk Music

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