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Odetta At Carnegie Hall

Odetta

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Album Review

This is a good, straightforward recording of Odetta's April 8, 1960, Carnegie Hall concert, which featured support from Bill Lee on string bass. (Incidentally, Lee — father of Spike Lee — is surely one of the unheralded heroes of the 1960s folk revival, contributing session work to many recordings and helping to expand the parameters of folk's sound from basic solo acoustic guitar accompaniment.) She's joined on the last four numbers by the Choir of the Church of the Master. While it's not certain that Odetta's versions of "If I Had a Hammer," "John Riley," "John Henry," and "No More Auction Block" (all done here) were the most influential of the folk revival, certainly she was an important popularizer of these and similar songs. The album is also available in its entirety, paired with a live recording at New York's Town Hall from the same era, on Vanguard's double-LP Essential Odetta, although the CD version of that release omits a few songs from each disc.

Biography

Born: 31 December 1930 in Birmingham, AL

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the strongest voices in the folk revival and the civil rights movement, Odetta was born on New Year's Eve 1930 in Birmingham, AL. By the time she was six years old, she had moved with her younger sister and mother to Los Angeles. She showed a keen interest in music from the time she was a child, and when she was about ten years old, somewhere between church and school, her singing voice was discovered. Odetta's mother began saving money to pay for voice lessons for her, but was advised to...
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