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Odetta has passed away
December 2, 2008 9:29 PM   Subscribe

Odetta, folk singer and so much more, has died at age 77. The NYT has the final word with Odetta. “You’re walking down life’s road, society’s foot is on your throat, every which way you turn you can’t get from under that foot. And you reach a fork in the road and you can either lie down and die, or insist upon your life.”
posted by TomSophieIvy (42 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
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She was supposed to sing come January for Obama's inauguration. She's been touring the last few years in her wheelchair. Truly a remarkable woman, an inspiration, and damn did she ever have a staggering voice. R.I.P.
posted by ageispolis at 9:43 PM on December 2, 2008


Water Boy, and half a century later, House of the Rising Sun.
posted by ageispolis at 9:48 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


oh, man.



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posted by pointilist at 9:49 PM on December 2, 2008


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posted by ktrey at 9:54 PM on December 2, 2008


Her voice was astounding. And so was her commitment to struggle and so was her intellect. I found a recent interview with Tavis here.
posted by serazin at 10:08 PM on December 2, 2008


ageispolis...Water Boy had my hair standing on end. What a powerful delivery.

More: For Obama Jim Crow Blues, a Cold War propaganda documentary on the Freedom March with more Odetta, and this is just short and sweet...watch her face...utter delight in her art.

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posted by salishsea at 10:35 PM on December 2, 2008


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posted by lapolla at 10:47 PM on December 2, 2008


It's not a well-known film, but "Dogfight," starring Lili Taylor has a wonderful scene in which she attempts to convey her enthusiastic admiration of Odetta to a character played by River Phoenix. Taylor plays it with a great combination of adoration for Odetta the artist and optimism for the world her music often expressed. That's where I first encountered Odetta.

There's something a bit dated in Odetta's style that probably means she won't be "rediscovered" in the same manner as Elizabeth Cotten, Fred Neil or Karen Dalton. I imagine she'll seem much more linked to an era and a movement than many lesser artists will. But to a time struggling with civil rights and integration, what a rock she must have been. Her strength and resolve were unmistakably hardcore. She'd had a beautiful soul. And they don't make them like her any longer, to our great loss.

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posted by Dee Xtrovert at 10:56 PM on December 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I saw her sing in the Cathedral of St. John, back in '86. Her voice filled that space.

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posted by Araucaria at 11:42 PM on December 2, 2008


St. John the unfinished, that is.
posted by Araucaria at 11:44 PM on December 2, 2008


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posted by Rumple at 12:01 AM on December 3, 2008


Ah, damn. I believe she was slated to perform at Obama's innauguration, too. It's sad she won't be there to see it and take part. Real glad she could see the man elected, though.

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posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:26 AM on December 3, 2008


was just talking about her tonight. sigh.

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posted by allen.spaulding at 1:05 AM on December 3, 2008


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posted by quazichimp at 1:27 AM on December 3, 2008


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posted by fixedgear at 2:23 AM on December 3, 2008


There's something a bit dated in Odetta's style...

I've always wondered why Odetta wasn't a much bigger star. I always tried to like her much more than I actually could. Even in the sixties, she was really only tolerable in small doses. You heard Odetta and thought, "Wow, what a voice. What a face. What a presence." And moved on. I think that for all its power, her voice had a severely limited range. It wasn't a supple emotional instrument. What it did best was assert its own strength, which you had to acknowledge, if not enjoy.
posted by Faze at 2:36 AM on December 3, 2008


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posted by El Brendano at 2:53 AM on December 3, 2008


Very sad news.

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posted by Thorzdad at 3:36 AM on December 3, 2008



posted by Smart Dalek at 4:01 AM on December 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


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Her voice and awareness occupied a huge presence and she was an inspirational and remarkably intelligent woman. I think I’ll put on Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues to commemorate her sad passing.

..[23 seconds in] OK, that’s enough.
posted by applemeat at 4:04 AM on December 3, 2008


:-(


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posted by -t at 4:22 AM on December 3, 2008


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what a voice!
posted by rongorongo at 4:45 AM on December 3, 2008


crap. double crap. i knew she was sick, but ... crap.

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posted by msconduct at 5:13 AM on December 3, 2008


When I'm high, I AM Odetta.

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posted by jonp72 at 5:21 AM on December 3, 2008


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posted by jdfalk at 5:26 AM on December 3, 2008


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What A Friend We Have In Jesus
posted by EarBucket at 5:50 AM on December 3, 2008


My wife is a huge fan and turned me on to Odetta. We knew this was coming but still, very sad.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:02 AM on December 3, 2008


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posted by QIbHom at 6:08 AM on December 3, 2008


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posted by trip and a half at 6:57 AM on December 3, 2008


Odetta has appeared regularly on A Prairie Home Companion:
April 27, 2002, April 9, 2005, May 28, 2005, December 24, 2005, December 23, 2006, July 14, 2007*, December 8, 2007* and March 29, 2008*.

(Most links are RealAudio, except * which use a Flash player.)
posted by grabbingsand at 7:11 AM on December 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


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posted by Halloween Jack at 7:16 AM on December 3, 2008


aww. Odetta was very much a part of Obama being elected. How wonderful she saw him elected. Right on sistuh!!!

What a voice!

Thank you for your amazing life. You left the world a better place.

Rest in peace.
posted by nickyskye at 7:43 AM on December 3, 2008


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Damn, damn, damn. I still remember my jaw dropping the first time I heard her sing.
posted by desuetude at 7:50 AM on December 3, 2008


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posted by rtha at 7:50 AM on December 3, 2008


A force of nature.
posted by digaman at 8:22 AM on December 3, 2008


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posted by ameliajayne at 8:30 AM on December 3, 2008


Shit, but the timing sucks. (And for Obama, losing his Toot as well)
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posted by cookie-k at 10:31 AM on December 3, 2008


I saw her at the Ottawa Folk Festival this August, a warm moonlit night. was completely blown away. I barely knew anything about her before then. I recorded some video of her performing "House of the Rising Sun" that I'll put together and link here as soon as its done.

So sad, I had another song she performed, stuck in my head all day yesterday.

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posted by troubles at 10:40 AM on December 3, 2008


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posted by mike3k at 11:36 AM on December 3, 2008


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Note to self: when it comes to seeing great musicians perform, do not pass it up, because it might be you last chance.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:39 PM on December 3, 2008


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posted by languagehat at 1:24 PM on December 3, 2008


here it is: House of the Rising Sun, Ottawa Folk Festival, August 2008

(You'll have to forgive my fascination with the flying insects around the stage lights that i recorded for the first part of the video, I just found them kinda beautiful.)
posted by troubles at 2:39 PM on December 3, 2008


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