Known as “The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement,” Odetta played an important role in bringing blues music — namely blues protest music — to a wider audience. Her booming voice combines gospel and opera, while her musical style ranges from country to folk to Negro spirituals. Along with her important contributions to society, she helped to usher in the blues and folk revival of the early 1960s.
- The Tin Angel (1954, w/ Larry Mohr) A-
- Combining influences of folk, country and Gospel spirituals, this underrated classic of salt-of-the-earth blues finds now-famous Odetta partnering with who-the-hell-is-Larry? for raw lo-fi editions of timeless Lead Belly, enduring Blind Blake and a few classic Woody Guthrie’s. The rest are all traditionals ranging in origin from the mid-19th century to the early 1940s. More of an artifact than a timeless masterpiece, but an enlightening listen nonetheless.
- Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues (1956) A
- Odetta’s folk songs reach new heights of emotion and craft. Her second LP, Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues, is her best and also most influential. Effortlessly sliding between blues and gospel, Odetta ushered in the Civil Rights Era thanks to her adventurous, revolutionary, operatic, salt-of-the-earth voice.