Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Odetta, 1930-2008. R.I.P.

Odetta, an iconic figure in American folk music, died yesterday of heart failure. She would have turned 78 on December 30th.

Odetta emerged as one of the giants of folk music in the late 1950s and early 1960s and was active in the Civil Rights Movement. She was one of the primary sources of inspiration for Bob Dylan.

Although she had been recently confined to a wheelchair her voice had not diminished and still occasionally performed in concert. She was widely expected to perform at Barack Obama's inauguration next month.

Every year Boston rings in New Year with a festival called First Night as do many cities across North America. Usually, the entertainment is supplied by local artists. However, at First Night 2006, Odetta performed at the Berklee Performance Center.

I had planned to attend her concert. However, my roomie at the time was not interested in seeing the concert so we did something else. Suffice it to say I don't remember what we did at that point. In retrospect I wish I had been more insistent in trying to convince him the concert would have been worthwhile. Our loss and today America's loss.

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