“I GOT MY PRIDE” – THE BLUES TALES OF LEADBELLY, March 1-June 7, will exhibit recordings, magazine articles, concert posters, original photographs, writings by Pete Seeger and others from influential publications Living Blues and Downbeat, interviews, and archival material to develop the story of Leadbelly’s powerful life as a musician. A creator, a triumphant songster, and a music historian, Folk and Blues pioneer Leadbelly made songs from the stories and challenges of his own life, and the lives of others he had known. The exhibit will include the complexity of Leadbelly’s relationship with documentation and performance in his years of work with the Lomax family, and how his playing was influential in carrying the stories of past generations traumatized by prison, field work, and slavery to influence the trajectory of blues musicians of his own generation such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Brownie McGee, and Josh White.
Leadbelly’s influence also bridged to subsequent generations of musicians of broad social and cultural impact including artists as varied as Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Odetta, Harry Belafonte, the Weavers, the Beatles, Bernice Reagon and Sweet Honey in the Rock, the low-fi sounds of X and Kurt Cobain, and beyond. Of note is that, during Leadbelly’s short residence in Los Angeles in the 1940s, he lived near Exposition and Western in West Adams, close to the neighborhood where The William Grant Still Arts Center is now located. An opening reception and concert for “I GOT MY PRIDE” – THE BLUES TALES OF LEADBELLY will take place on Saturday, March 1 from 3:00-6:00p.m.
It will feature compositions by Leadbelly, as well as by those he influenced, performed live by Marcus L. Miller, Greg Wright, and guest musicians. Leadbelly and his formative legacy in Folk and Blues music is this year’s focus for The William Grant Still Arts Center’s Annual African-American Heritage Exhibition. Now in its sixth year, the exhibition series celebrates the life and work of African-American composers each spring. Combining community archives with original artwork and music education, past exhibitions in the series have included Arkestry of the Cosmos: The Universe Language of Sun Ra (2013), Deeds Not Words: The Life and Work of Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln (2012), A New Day: Nina Simone (2011) and The High Priest of Bop: The Jazz Odyssey of Thelonious Monk (2010).
The music of Leadbelly is also being presented in conjunction with DCA’s African-American Heritage Music Education Program. A culminating youth and community concert, featuring student performances of compositions influenced by learning Folk and Blues traditions through the work of Leadbelly, will take place on April 26.
Program events and activities:
Exhibition Dates: March 1-June 7, 2014
Opening Concert: Saturday, March 1, 3:00-6:00p.m.
Culminating Youth Concert: Saturday, April 26, 2014, TBA
Gallery Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, Noon – 5:00 p.m.
Location: William Grant Still Arts Center
2520 South West View Street
Los Angeles, CA 90016