Friday, December 05, 2008
American folk singer and civil rights activist Odetta has died. She was 77.Her manager, Doug Yeager, gave a rousing statement to the press following her death: "May Odetta's luminous spirit and volcanic voice from the heavens live on for the ages. Her voice will never die."
Odetta was considered one of the most influential folk singers of her generation, inspiring musicians such as Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. She was always politically active, performing the slavery song Oh Freedom during the 1963 march on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr gave his historic "I Have a Dream" speech.
In a 2007 interview she paid tribute the long-dead singers who first gave voice to the old blues and ballads and slavery songs she sang. “Those people who made up the songs were the ones who insisted upon life and living, who reaffirmed themselves,” she said. “They didn’t just fall down into the cracks or the holes. And that was an incredible example for me.”
Odetta was due to perform at Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony in January 2009.