Leadbelly (the blues singer)

Does anyone know of any websites that let you listen to Huddie Ledbetter records for free? I know there are a number of ragtime-related sites that provide free listening, and Leadbelly’s music is almost that old. I imagine that most of his songs must be in the public domain by now.

(Sorry if I’m crossing a legal boundary here. If that’s the case, can you please just accept my apology and lock the thread?)

Amazon has some 30 second clips and two complete songs you can listen to for free.

Can the actual recordings ever be in the public domain? The songs can be, I know, which means you can sing them, record them, etc. without having to pay the original artists.

I was under the impression though, that the recordings are never in the public domain. IANAL though.

The Smithsonian Institute used to have some up - Alan Lomax “discovered” Leadbelly and I believe the songs appeared on Lomax’s recordings put out under the Smithsonian’s auspices.

One of the ragtime sites I mentioned is run by a professional musician, and he allows free listening, though in this case they are his own performances. As far as I can tell, though, there’s no easy way to permanently download those performances onto one’s hard drive; so you can’t easily put together your own “albums”.

As far as recordings being in the public domain, I thought at some point they could be, though I don’t know when that would be. In any event, I hoped that single-listening in a nonsaveable format might be fair use.