Women Music March 2022 – Day 9 – Odetta

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/95/34/aa/9534aac4486a9492ac6e176071d01ac2.jpgOdetta

Odetta Holmes (b. 12/31/30 – d. 12/2/08,) known as Odetta, was an American singer, actress, guitarist, lyricist, and a civil and human rights activist, often referred to as “The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement“. Her musical repertoire consisted largely of American folk music, blues, jazz, and spirituals. An important figure in the American folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s, she influenced many of the key figures of the folk-revival of that time, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, and Janis Joplin. In 2011 Time magazine included her recording of “Take This Hammer” on its list of the 100 Greatest Popular Songs, stating that “Rosa Parks was her No. 1 fan, and Martin Luther King Jr. called her the queen of American folk music.”

I was able to find bits and pieces here and there about Odetta that I planned on patching together until I found this gem of an article about her in the February 24, 2022 issue of, The New Yorker written by Sasha Frere-Jones, called, “How Odetta Revolutionized Folk Music:  She animated the horror and emotional intensity in American labor songs by projecting them like a European opera singer.” On March 7’s post on Jean Ritchie I shared that Jean was a seeker and collector of old music. In Frere-Jones’ article it shows how Odetta did the same.

Discography and Filmography:

Odetta discography
Studio albums

18

Live albums

7

Compilation albums

11

Tribute albums

2

Odetta also lists 51 film and television appearances.

Some things to share:
Odetta influenced Harry Belafonte, who “cited her as a key influence” on his musical career; Bob Dylan, who said, “The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta. I heard a record of hers Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues in a record store, back when you could listen to records right there in the store. Right then and there, I went out and traded my electric guitar and amplifier for an acoustical guitar, a flat-top Gibson…. [That album was] just something vital and personal. I learned all the songs on that record“; Joan Baez, who said, “Odetta was a goddess. Her passion moved me. I learned everything she sang“; Janis Joplin, who “spent much of her adolescence listening to Odetta, who was also the first person Janis imitated when she started singing“; the poet Maya Angelou, who once said, “If only one could be sure that every 50 years a voice and a soul like Odetta’s would come along, the centuries would pass so quickly and painlessly we would hardly recognize time“; John Waters, whose original screenplay for Hairspray mentions her as an influence on beatniks; and Carly Simon, who cited Odetta as a major influence and told of “going weak in the knees” when she had the opportunity to meet her in Greenwich Village.

Official website: here but there isn’t much there.

I found this 36-minute interview with Odetta in 2003 at The Library of Congress.

Sources:
wikipedia

17 Comments Add yours

  1. memadtwo says:

    All the ladies of my youth! What a voice and presence. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liam says:

    I met Odetta once! I saw her perform at Club Passim 20 or so years ago. She was magnificent! After the show, I got her autograph. Since I was in my 20s and most of the audience were a generation or so older she asked what brought me to the show. I told her my mother had an Odetta LP that I listened to growing up. She said “Ah, propaganda!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      ❤ Liam, this is a wonderful sharing. Why do you think she responded that way??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Liam says:

        Well, she was joking obviously, but my future wife and I were clearly the youngest people in the audience. I guess she figured my mother had introduced me to Odetta’s music. The funny thing is, I just found the album and started listening to it, so my mother was only passively involved.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Badfinger (Max) says:

    A truly great artist…I’ve always loved listening to her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Max, I was not familiar with her at all. That’s why I like doing this every year, I learn about so many new artists.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Badfinger (Max) says:

        She is a great one to learn about…a true legend that should have been more well known. ….I’ve written half of my project and I’ve learned a lot so far.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          Ah! So very awesome. I appreciate you more than you know.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Badfinger (Max) says:

            My pleasure…she was better than I thought.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. msjadeli says:

              Yay!!!!! Can’t wait to read and listen.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Badfinger (Max) says:

                I hope so! I should have it soon to you

                Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, what an amazing presence Odetta had. I love her live rendition of “Jim Crow Blues.” It’s not a bad sign when the likes of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez name an artist as an influence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Yes on all, Christian. She’s a cultural treasure for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dave says:

    Well that is an interesting one, glad I read it. I guess I hadn’t heard of her before…I began reading thinking she was the woman Tears for Fears used as a backing vocalist on songs like ‘Woman in chains’ but that was Oletta Adams, as it turns out. But I think i’ll try to listen to a tune or two by this lady.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      New for me too, Dave.

      Like

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