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Odetta

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Odetta

Odetta

photo: Paul Hawthorne / Getty Images

Description of Odetta's Music:

Singer-songwriter

Comparisons:

Odetta's contemporaries included folks like Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and Harry Belafonte, though her presence and powerful voice has proven incomparable.

Trivia Fact:

Odetta nicknamed her first guitar Baby.

Recommended CDs by Odetta:

At Town Hall (Vanguard, 1963) Compare Prices

The Essential Odetta (Vanguard, 1973) Compare Prices

The Tin Angel (Original Blues Classics, 1993) Compare Prices

Purchase/Download Odetta MP3s:

Odetta Biography:

Odetta Holmes was born in December 1930, in Birmingham, Alabama. She grew up in Los Angeles, where she studied music at the Los Angeles City College.

When she was 19 years old, she began performing professionally with the touring company of Finian's Rainbow. Although she continued in musical theatre for sometime, Odetta started singing folk music after moving to San Francisco in the early 1950s.

There, she met Woody Guthrie protege Ramblin' Jack Elliott and scored a recurring gig at a local folk club. But she didn't stay in San Francisco long.

Odetta moved to New York in 1953, and began playing at the legendary Blue Angel club. By 1954, she had recorded her debut album on Fantasy Records. By the end of the decade, she had achieved some notoriety through the help of Harry Belafonte and Pete Seeger.

Her second album - Folk Songs, released in 1963 - quickly became one of the best-selling records of the year. After the release of Folk Songs, she signed a contract with Vanguard Records.

Known for her incredibly powerful stage presence and her ability to command the simplest instruments - voice and clapping hands - as well as her mastery of acoustic guitar, Odetta rose to fame singing the most classic African-American folk songs and spirituals. Through the years, she's also touched in gospel and the blues. She died from heart disease on December 2, 2008, at the age of 77.

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