Lead Belly at 125: A Tribute to an American Songster

Featuring Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, and Buddy Miller with Viktor Krauss plus Alvin Youngblood Hart, Billy Hector, Valerie June, Shannon McNally, Josh White, Jr., Lucinda Williams, Dan Zanes, and more.

Date: Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 8 p.m.

Location: Kennedy Center Concert Hall

The Kennedy Center, in collaboration with the GRAMMY Museum®, announces Lead Belly at 125: A Tribute to an American Songster, on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 8 p.m. in the Concert Hall. This one night-only event will celebrate the artistry and lasting influence of American folk icon Huddie William Ledbetter, better known as “Lead Belly,” with many of today’s top folk and blues artists performing his well-known classics. The musical evening will feature Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, and Buddy Miller with Viktor Krauss as headliners, with special appearances by Alvin Youngblood Hart, Billy Hector, Valerie June, Shannon McNally, Josh White, Jr., Lucinda Williams, and Dan Zanes, among others. Artists are subject to change.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with the GRAMMY Museum® in this homage to American music luminary Lead Belly here in Washington, D.C., where he had such a strong connection to the Library of Congress through his collaborations with ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax,” affirmed Garth Ross, Kennedy Center Vice President for Community Engagement. “We proudly join the Museum, the guest artists, and Lead Belly fans in recognizing and celebrating his lifelong legacy through this event, which brings together some of the biggest names in the music industry.”

Lead Belly remains an influential presence in the American folk music scene. Known as a master storyteller and the creator of a great songbook of folk standards, he was similarly praised for his strong vocal abilities and virtuosity on the 12-string guitar. He took the sound of folk and made it his own by pioneering a blend of genres including blues, gospel, and spirituals. His songs spoke about “real” topics such as religion, women, liquor, prison, racism, social issues, and politics—making his music current, relatable, and transcendent all at once.

 “We are excited to celebrate Lead Belly’s legacy by bringing together some of the most renowned artists spanning the genres he helped define,” said GRAMMY Museum® Executive Director Bob Santelli, who co-produced the career-spanning box set Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, the first comprehensive overview of Lead Belly’s career which was released February 24 on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. “The caliber of artists set to take the stage is a testament to the strong influence Lead Belly continues to have on the music of today.”     


Lead Belly at 125: A Tribute to an American Songster takes place on April 25, 2015 at 8 p.m. in the Concert Hall. Tickets start at $20 and are currently available for purchase at the Kennedy Center box office, by calling Instant Charge at (202) 467-4600, or through the Kennedy Center website at


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