Odetta: The Voice of the American Civil Rights Movement
Odetta: Songs of Personal and Social Liberation
Odetta, the singer whose deep voice wove together the strongest songs of American folk music and the civil rights movement, died on Tuesday at Lenox Hill Hospital (NYC) at the age of 77. She had been hoping to sing at President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration in January. Odetta, who sang at coffeehouses and at Carnegie Hall, made highly influential recordings of blues and ballads, and became one of the most widely known folk-music artists of the 1950s and ’60s. She was a formative influence on dozens of artists, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Janis Joplin.
Her voice was an accompaniment to the black-and-white images of the freedom marchers who walked the roads of Alabama and Mississippi and the boulevards of Washington in the quest to end racial discrimination. Rosa Parks, the woman who started the boycott of segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama, was once asked which songs meant the most to her. She replied, “All of the songs Odetta sings.”
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Odetta: Singer for the Civil Rights Movement
Odetta Singing “Glory Halleluja”
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