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.
Go beyond the episode:
- Ian Zack’s Odetta: A Life in Music and Protest
- Zack recommends that new listeners begin with of Odetta’s first two albums: Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues and Odetta at the Gate of Horn (or her lone rock album, Odetta Sings)
- Or to get a feel for the effect she had on audiences, listen to a live album like Odetta at Town Hall—or watch her 1964 concert on YouTube
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