Sadly, folk singer Odetta passed away yesterday at 77 years of age. Last month, she was reported to be in critical condition in a New York City hospital for kidney failure and has now succumbed to heart disease. To the end, Odetta’s determination never faltered as she continued to perform regularly over the years despite her declining health. Known to many as the Voice of the Civil Rights Movement, Odetta drew attention early on to the struggle for equal rights and sang at the 1963 March on Washington, the same year she was nominated for a Grammy for best folk recording. Although she never claimed to be a “real folksinger,” Odetta influenced folk revivalists like Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and Joan Baez and has sung with or been covered by artists as diverse as Harry Belafonte, Nick Cave, and The 6ths (Stephin Merritt). A true freedom singer, Odetta has left us a body of work that will be long remembered and cherished.
Be sure to listen to The Roadhouse tonight at 6PM as host Greg Vandy plays music from this great voice and interpreter of American Folk music.
House of the Rising Sun: