Soulful Blues Star Mike Ledbetter Has Died

Blues singer/musician Mike Ledbetter died yesterday, January 21st, at the age of 33. His death was confirmed in a Facebook statement from his life partner, Kathy Cahoon, this morning.

Mike Ledbetter 2 - Marilyn Stringer
Mike Ledbetter at the 2018 Bradenton Blues Festival – Photo Marilyn Stringer

It’s with the heaviest my heart has ever been in my 34 years, and the puffiest of eyes that I’m typing this out. Mike Ledbetter was loved by so many. This is for everyone. I hope it’s comprehensible.

First, I’d like to put to rest the question of what happened. As some of you know, but not all, Mike was epileptic. He didn’t like to talk about it, but I always did because it helps educate, and give him a break. In a series of unfortunate events, he had multiple seizures yesterday. He fell and hit his head on the last one. And that’s all anyone needs to know about it.

Michael David Ledbetter was born April 27th, 1985 destined for musical stardom. Influenced by artists including Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, and Anson Funderburgh Mike had soul. But that was far from all. Operatically trained, he shared his talents on Chicago area stages for the better part of a decade before joining the Nick Moss Band as vocalist and rhythm guitarist at the age of 25.

Moss was not only a mentor for Ledbetter, but became family in that way that only two souls who know each other in the most intimate of musical ways can. Touring and recording with Moss garnered the young vocalist scores of fans the world over. He was quickly acknowledged as one of the best in the business by not just the fans, but his contemporaries as well. Ledbetter’s sound was not just Chicago blues, but was also soulful, hearkening back to the glory days of the Windy City’s West Side.

More recently, Mike Ledbetter joined with “Monster” Mike Welch to form The Welch Ledbetter Connection. Their debut album, Right Place, Right Time sent a shock wave through the blues music world. Ledbetter’s vocal abilities saw him nominated in the categories of Contemporary Blues Male Artist, Instrumentalist – Vocals, and B. B. King Entertainer of the Year in 2018. The group was also nominated for Album of the Year and Band of the Year, with “Monster” Mike being nominated in the Instrumentalist – Guitar category.

This year, Ledbetter is once again nominated in the Instrumentalist – Vocals, and B. B. King Entertainer of the Year categories.

Anyone who knew Mike Ledbetter shared many of the same thoughts. He possessed a powerhouse instrument, using his vocals to emotionally stir even the hardest cases among blues aficionados. His work ethic was second to none, and his quirky sense of humor made him a joy to be around. Social media platforms exploded late last night with and early this morning, with most friends and fans being near dumbstruck by the news.

“My little brother shone brighter than the flames he left behind when he walked off the stage.” – Nick Moss

“The last conversation I had with my friend Mike was about how much we loved each other. Hold on to your loved ones. If you love what someone is doing, let them know. That project you’ve wanted to do with your friend? Do that thing. Don’t wait. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.” – “Monster” Mike Welch

“I was praying I was dreaming last night when i read this news. To say I’m shocked is a complete understatement. Mike Ledbetter was absolutely the best singers of our time in my opinion. He was also one of the most funny human beings I’ve ever met!!” – Annika Chambers

“I am beyond words for the loss of Mike Ledbetter…..I don’t understand. I am praying for his family. He was as good as it gets and so damn funny. God Bless you brother, enjoy the stars.” – Mike Zito

Mike Ledbetter - Marilyn Stringer
Mike Ledbetter with the Nick Moss Band Photo Marilyn Stringer

“I have been more than a fan of his since he first played at the Chicago Blues Festival in 2011 with Nick Moss. It was his first big gig. His voice melted me. I saw them again 2 weeks later at Blues From The Top in Colorado and I told him, ‘Don’t worry about me out in the pit fanning myself. Just melting from your singing.’ He thought that was funny, but kind of embarrassing, because he was so humble. He blushed…The Blues World has lost a genius now. A musical talent that was just growing with every show. A kind man, funny and sarcastic, a proud and loving father, husband, and son. My heart can’t even process the shattering devastation of this loss.” – Marilyn Stringer

We offer our most heart-felt condolences and best wishes to Mike’s family, friends, and fans. He was bright, blazing light that was extinguished long before his time.

*Feature image Marilyn Stringer

The post Soulful Blues Star Mike Ledbetter Has Died appeared first on American Blues Scene.

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  1. Gary Neu

    His charisma and presence had power that magnify both joy and happiness. Michael was a True Blues Ambassador and his music, his soul, will continue to spread the gospel of the blues; think of Stevie Ray Vaughn and so many other greats that change music. The bands concert from last year shows the chemistry and magic that electrified this band.

  2. John "J.D." Warren

    BLUES FRIENDS, We were at The Bradenton Blues Festival Dec 1st 2018 and witnessed this very talented Bluesman perform. Welch-Ledbetter was an awesome final act at the Bradenton festival and what a unforgettable (final act) it was. Special thanks to Paul Benjamin, blues promoter for booking this wonderful band. His family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers.

  3. Grace

    First time I heard Mike I was way back under the trees at the Sarasota Blues Festival. I sat straight up in my lawn chair and moved to the front of the stage to see if that incredible voice was coming out of a real, honest to goodness human male. Practically teleported to the front, couldn’t even speak and let my group know what I was up to I was that gobsmacked! Utterly shocked when I saw the news. I can’t express my sorrow enough to his family.

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