Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Releases Dan Zanes and Friends’ Lead Belly, Baby!


As a young boy, GRAMMY-winning children’s artist Dan Zanes was drawn to the music of Lead Belly in all of its magic, imagination, and mystery. This discovery completely changed his view of the world and his place in it. Zanes now presents a fresh vision of Lead Belly’s music for a new generation with a little help from his friends. Experience Lead Belly’s songs through a new lens as Dan Zanes and Valerie June, Chuck D., Billy Bragg, Aloe Blacc, and many others celebrate an American musical icon.


The album, Lead Belly, Baby! will be available on Friday, August 25. It includes a colorful 40 page booklet with full lyrics and liner notes by Zanes and Jeff Place, the Senior Curator of the Smithsonian Institution’s Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections.

More about Dan Zanes


Called “the family-music genre’s most outspoken and eloquent advocate” byTime magazine, Zanes, a New Hampshire native who made several albums as a member of the Del Fuegos during the ’80s, has been performing for families since releasing ‘Rocket Ship Beach’ in 2000. With his band, Dan Zanes and Friends, he has released more than a dozen albums and has toured the world sharing handmade 21st-century social music with enthusiastic crowds of kids and kid sympathizers. His ‘Catch That Train!’ won a Grammy for Best Musical Album for Children in 2007.


Zanes and his fiancée, Claudia Eliaza, are pioneers in the sensory-friendly performance movement. The Kennedy Center recently commissioned the two to create the first sensory-friendly folk opera, “Night Train 57,” slated to premiere in October. “For me, the folk experience is about inclusion and participation – welcoming people in,” Zanes says. “The spirit of Lead Belly’s music that affected me as a 7-year-old drives me to want to create and present in a sensory-friendly atmosphere today.” In addition to making other national performances of Night Train 57, Zanes will tour as “The Lead Belly Project” beginning in fall 2017.


Credit: Sugar Mountain PR.

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