Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"All the songs Odetta Sings"

Odetta died today. Here's a link to the New York Times obituary. It's a huge loss for the world. According to the story, friends said she hoped to sing at Barack Obama's inauguration on January 20. How fitting for a giant of the Civil Rights Movement to have performed at the inauguration of the first African-American President. Now, it will feel like something is missing. When Rosa Parks was asked what songs she liked, she answered "All the songs Odetta sings."

I got to see her many years ago. She was a gifted singer but she also had a singular stage presence -- not something you ever forget. And she could sing almost anything from old spirituals to blues to rock music.

Thankfully there's a number of videos of her performing sprinkled around youtube. Like this one of her performing with Tennessee Ernie Ford on his variety show.

And this one from 2003 at the Philadelphia Freedom Festival doing Amazing Grace. These guys are really jamming.

Odetta was 77. She died of heart disease at New York's Lennox Hospital. A great voice of the people is gone.

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