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Odetta (1961)
Odetta Holmes, 2006 Kent State Folk Festival

Odetta (actually Odetta Holmes ; born December 31, 1930 in Birmingham , Alabama , † December 2, 2008 in New York City ) was an American singer. Her repertoire mainly comprised folk , blues and spirituals . Odetta's songs were held in high esteem by the American Civil Rights Movement .


Odetta was the daughter of Reuben Holmes, who died in her childhood, and of Flora Sanders, with whom she moved to Los Angeles in 1937 . She studied classical music at City College in Los Angeles and gained her first professional experience at a touring theater with the musical Finian's Rainbow . She was artistically inspired by the blues singers Mahalia Jackson and Leadbelly . Her career as a folk singer began in San Francisco , in 1953 she performed in a nightclub in New York. She recorded the first album in 1954.

Harry Belafonte invited her to a TV show in 1959. With the humorous song There's a Hole in the Bucket , the duo Odetta and Belafonte made it to number 32 on the British charts in 1961. Her album Odetta Sings Folk Songs was one of the best-selling of 1963. During the March on Washington for Work and Freedom on August 28, 1963, she appeared with her song I'm on My Way and the slave labor song Oh Freedom . She became known through the song Waterboy .

In Germany she sang for the first time in 1968 at the Waldeck Festival in the Hunsrück.

She influenced quite a few folk / rock artists, including Bob Dylan , Joan Baez and Janis Joplin . Dylan confessed in a 1978 interview that it was Odetta who led him to folk singing. The civil rights activist Rosa Parks named Odetta's songs as the most important songs she knew.

In several films such as The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman or Confession of a Sinner, Odetta also worked as an actress.

Odetta was scheduled to perform at the swearing in of newly elected American President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.



Web links

Commons : Odetta  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Text , clip from a film about Bob Dylan and full version
  2. ^ A b Odetta, Voice of Civil Rights Movement, Dies at 77 , New York Times , December 3, 2008
  3. Legendary Singer, Odetta, Hospitalized in NYC , musicnewsnet.com, November 16, 2008, but died 7 weeks earlier.