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Odetta is one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century. Artists interviewed over the last two years by Folk Music Archives credits Odetta as the single most im
portant influence in their musical career.

Bob Dylan was inspired by Odetta - - in 1956 her album, "ODETTA Sings Ballads & Blues," inspired him to trade in his electric guitar for a Gibson acoustic guitar. It is long over due that Dylan and Odetta perform together - - a   fitting tribute to folk - blues and music. Her voice continues to enrich our lives.

Odetta's most recent album "Blues Everywhere I Go" was nominated for a Grammy  Award. Ageless, her voice rings out with the passion of the 50's and 60's. Her new CD "ODETTA - Lookin' For A Home" affirms that early in her career she was referred to as the "female Leadbelly."

Pete Seeger said, "The first time I heard Odetta sing she sang "Take This Hammer" and I went and told her how I wish Leadbelly was still alive so he could have heard her." Pete elaborates further from liner notes on "ODETTA - Looking For A Home" Photo of Odetta performing on WC Handy Awards3 PBS- TV Special
. Photo Credit: JT Lotozo, The Columbus Blues Alliance Provided by: Doug Yeager, Yeager Productions, NYC.

"TAKE THIS HAMMER" : Prison and work song, Words and Music by Huddie Ledbetter [Leadbelly]; Collected and Adapted by John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax; Publisher: Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.

                      "I don't want your cold iron shackles"
                            what man has done to man
                      "Hurts my pride - hurts my pride"
              . . . and continues to do in one form or another

Folk Music Archives will be interviewing Odetta in New York or at the Library of Congress early in 2002. This will be a very special interview and "Voice Clips" will be featured this page. The entire interview will be part of the permanent collection of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

Odetta was born in Alabama and grew up in Los Angeles. She was training for a classical and operatic career until a visit to a San Francisco Bay coffee house featuring folk music awakened her interest. Following a long engagement at the Tin Angel, she was booked in New York at The Blue Angel. Odetta was embraced by the Greenwich Village folk community. She was soon to appear with Harry Belafonte at Carnegie Hall and Town Hall shows with Pete Seeger.  Odetta has recorded 27 albums and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 1999. 
Photo: Folk Music Archives Collection: Folk
Song and Minstrelsy, The Classic Record Library, A Vanguard Recording, featuring: Joan Baez; The Deller Consort; Bob Gibson; Cicco Houston; Ed McCurdy; Alan Mills; Odetta; Leon Bibb; Jimmy Driftwood; Ronnie Gilbert; Ewan MacColl; Tom Makem; John Jacob Niles; Pete Seeger and The Weavers. Copyright 1962.

In 1957 The New York Times wrote: "a striking contralto voice . . . one suspects she will be heard from increasingly in the future."

Odetta was born Odetta Gordon, December 31, 1930, in Birmingham, Alabama. In 2001a review proclaimed: "her voice is as strong and impressive as ever."  Her new album, entitled "ODETTA - Lookin' For A Home" is comprised of 15 songs either written or made famous by Leadbelly, including such classics as "Midnight Special,"  "Rock Island Line,"  "Goodnight Irene,"  Alabama Bound,"  "Boll Weevil" and "Where Did You Sleep Last Night (In The Pines)."

Folk Music Archives is indebted to Doug Yeager, Douglas A. Yeager Productions (212) 245-0240 for his support and encouragement. This historic archival project would not be complete without Odetta.

Best said by Maya Angelou: "Thank you Odetta, for continuing to define and enlighten our load."

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