The Queen of American Folk Music

Resurrecting the legacy of Odetta, voice of the Civil Rights Movement

Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy
Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy

You may not know her name, but Odetta was one of the most influential singers of the 20th century: called “the voice of the civil rights movement” by The New York Times and anointed “queen of American folk music” by Martin Luther King Jr., himself. Our guest this week is music journalist Ian Zack, author of the first in-depth biography of Odetta, whose incredible voice rang out at some of the most pivotal moments in the struggle for African-American equality, including 1960s marches in Washington and Selma.

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Stephanie Bastek is the senior editor of the Scholar and the producer/host of the Smarty Pants podcast.


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