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    Remembering Odetta, The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement

    In our age of information overload and 24-hour news cycles, it’s hard to imagine that a single woman with a voice and a guitar could galvanize an entire generation into action. Yet that is the case with Odetta, a legendary singer, songwriter, guitarist, actress and civil rights icon, and an ASCAP member from 1962 until her death in 2008.

    Remembering Odetta, The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement

    Remembering Odetta, The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement By special contributor Doug Yeager  •  February 28, 2018

    In our age of information overload and 24-hour news cycles, it’s hard to imagine that a single woman with a voice and a guitar could galvanize an entire generation into action. Yet that is the case with Odetta, a legendary singer, songwriter, guitarist, actress and civil rights icon, and an ASCAP member from 1962 until her death in 2008.

    In 1961, Martin Luther King, Jr. called her “The Queen of American Folk Music” and she lived up to that distinction, performing, recording and inspiring new generations of songwriters throughout her life. Many of her songs, such as "Hit or Miss," "This Little Light of Mine," "Glory, Glory" and "Oh Freedom" became folk music classics, covered by countless artists, sung at civil rights gatherings over the world and appearing in movies, television series and commercials.

    Odetta was just inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. At the induction, the 2018 Grammy nominated blues artist Guy Davis spoke of his life-long friendship with her and performed two songs in her honor. His performance was followed by words about Odetta from Odetta's daughter Michelle Esrick, her son Boots Jaffee, her niece Jan Ford, and by her longtime manager Doug Yeager. Heartfelt video tributes were also presented by Congressman John Lewis, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, Bonnie Raitt and Kris Kristofferson.

    The following is a heartfelt remembrance of Odetta and her enduring impact by her manager Doug Yeager.

    ********

    Odetta was born in the ghetto of Birmingham, Alabama in 1930, at a time when it was oppressive and dangerous for an African-American family living in Jim Crow South. She experienced her first racial horrors in 1937, when after she boarded the Birmingham train to move to Los Angeles with her family, the conductor angrily yelled at her and the family, called them racial names, and forcibly pushed them to the back train cars for “Coloreds Only.”

    In Los Angeles in 1944, while studying to be an opera singer, Odetta was asked to join the famed Turnabout Theater company, where she performed in many plays and musical revues for the next five years alongside Elsa Lancaster. By 1949, when opera companies in American would still not permit African American singers on their stage, Odetta joined the national road company of the Broadway musical theater show Finian's Rainbow. During the show's four-month run in San Francisco, Odetta learned to play the guitar and began singing southern plantation work songs and chain gang songs at the city's coffeehouses. By 1953, she was a headliner at prominent clubs on the West Coast, Chicago and New York and had recorded her first album Live at the Tin Angel. By 1955, Odetta began appearing as a singer and a dramatic actress on film and television, and by 1959, she was a headliner at Carnegie Hall and had toured the world's greatest stages. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Janis Joplin have acknowledged Odetta as their first major inspiration and influence. Martin Luther King, Jr. labeled Odetta the Queen of American Folk Music. Rosa Parks, when asked by her biographer Douglas Brinkley what songs she listened to during the civil rights movement, she responded, "All the songs Odetta sings."

    In 1963, Odetta sang for the masses on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial at the historic March on Washington. That same year, she appeared with President Kennedy on the civil rights television special, Dinner with the President. And in 1965, Odetta returned to Alabama to sing for the brave souls that were marching from Selma to Montgomery (in the 2014 film SELMA, Odetta's voice is heard singing to the marchers). In 1970, Odetta returned again to Alabama to record her album ODETTA Sings at the Muscle Shoals recording studio. Some years later, CBS Morning Show’s Dr. Billy Taylor accompanied Odetta on her first trip back to Birmingham in 50 years, as she gave a master class, received a Doctorate from the university, and performed a concert at Birmingham's Civil Rights Museum.

    In 1999, Odetta was honored at the White House by President Bill Clinton with the National Medal of Arts and Humanities. As President Clinton presented her with the medal he noted, "She is the reigning queen of American folk music, reminding us all that songs have the power to change the heart and change the world.“

    Also in 1999, Odetta was nominated for both a Grammy Award and a WC Handy Award for her album Blues Everywhere I Go. In the liner notes of that album, Maya Angelou wrote, "If only one could be sure that every 50 years a voice and soul like Odetta’s would come along, the centuries would pass so quickly and painlessly we would hardly recognize the time. One of my great blessings is to have known her for 50 years, to have been enriched by hearing that voice, to have been informed by knowing that soul. This great artist sings the drama, and yes, the comedy of this human journey. The stations we’ve arrived at tardily and the destinations we have missed entirely. Her mouth was full of the glory of our aspirations. Thank you, Odetta, for continuing to define and enlighten our load."

    In 2001, Odetta released the album Looking for a Home, a Tribute to Lead Belly. Noted author and biographer Robert Gordon wrote the liner notes, and Pete Seeger added the words, "I've been waiting for this album for 50 years! The first time I heard Odetta sing she sang "Take This Hammer" and I went and told her how I wish Leadbelly was still alive so he could have heard her. And now what a great CD full of songs. Hooray!" Later in 2001, two days after the 9/11 tragedy, David Letterman asked Odetta to become the first artist to perform on his show upon its return to the airwaves, as a healing to America. Backed by the Boys Choir of Harlem, she performed "This Little Light of Mine, "We Shall Overcome" and "Amazing Grace."

    Source : www.ascap.com

    Singer Called "The Voice Of The Civil Rights Movement"

    Singer Called "The Voice Of The Civil Rights Movement" Crossword Clue Answers. Find the latest crossword clues from New York Times Crosswords, LA Times Crosswords and many more.

    Singer Called "The Voice Of The Civil Rights Movement"

    The crossword clue Singer called “The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement” with 6 letters was last seen on the May 14, 2022. We think the likely answer to this clue is ODETTA. Below are all possible answers to this clue ordered by its rank. You can easily improve your search by specifying the number of letters in the answer.

    Rank Word Clue

    94% ODETTA Singer called “The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement”

    4% BOYCO{TT} Civil rights movement protest action

    3% TITLEIX Civil rights law of 1972

    3% NBC "The Voice" network

    3% IDA ___ B. Wells (civil rights pioneer)

    3% EVERS Civil rights leader Medgar

    3% BLM Civil rights initialism

    3% ACLU Civil rights org

    3% ROSA Civil rights icon Parks

    3% STEELE Civil rights activist C.K

    3% ANNE Civil rights activist Moody

    3% AMELIA ___ Boynton Robinson (civil rights leader)

    3% JOYCE ___ Bryant, 20th-century singer/civil rights activist

    3% ROY Civil rights activist Wilkins

    3% NINA Civil rights activist Simone

    3% LEWIS Civil rights legend John

    3% SELMA Flashpoint of the civil rights movement

    3% WESHALLOVERCOME Anthem of the civil rights movement

    3% ROSAPARKS Civil rights movement figure

    3% MEREDITH James of the civil rights movement

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    Mahalia Jackson: Voice Of The Civil Rights Movement : NPR

    The gospel singer was born about 100 years ago in New Orleans, and when she was 16, she traveled the well-worn path up the Mississippi to Chicago. Beginning in the 1940s, she was one of the first singers to take gospel out of the church, drawing white audiences and selling millions of records. In the process, she inspired generations of singers.

    Mahalia Jackson: Voice Of The Civil Rights Movement

    February 8, 20101:56 PM ET

    Heard on All Things Considered

    SONARI GLINTON 6-Minute Listen

    Mahalia Jackson sings at a Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in May 1957.

    Paul Schutzer; Time & Live Pictures/Getty Images

    When you hear the voice, you know the woman.

    "That's where the power comes from," says the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who first met the singer in the 1960s. "When there is no gap between what you say and who you are, what you say and what you believe — when you can express that in song, it is all the more powerful."

    Mahalia Jackson was born in 1911 in New Orleans. When she was 16, she traveled the well-worn path up the Mississippi River to Chicago.

    Beginning in the 1940s, she was one of the first singers to take gospel out of the church, drawing white audiences and selling millions of records. She inspired generations of singers, including Aretha Franklin, Della Reese, Albertina Walker and Mavis Staples of The Staples Singers.

    Still, Staples says, Mahalia Jackson's success didn't always go over well back home in the black church.

    "The ministers in the churches didn't want her singing in their church, because she would put a beat behind these traditional gospel songs," Staples says. "They would say, 'She's singing the blues.' "

    Causing Trouble

    And when Jackson brought her brand of gospel to the recording studio, it could cause trouble, as well, says the Rev. Stanley Keeble of Chicago's Gospel Music Heritage Museum.

    Sponsor Message

    For example, she worked with the great Mitch Miller.

    "Mahalia had him pulling out his hair at the recording session," Keeble says. "Mahalia had a problem staying within those time measures that he had set. And gospel music is more inspirational than time-induced."

    In her determination to keep her music reflective of her faith and personal vision, Mahalia Jackson could stand up to producers, preachers and even friends. Louis Armstrong was one of many who begged her to try jazz or pop, but she steadfastly insisted on singing only gospel.

    Her voice became the soundtrack of the civil rights movement. Jesse Jackson says that, when a young Martin Luther King Jr. called on her, she never refused, traveling with him to the deepest parts of the segregated south. Mahalia Jackson sang at Selma, the March on Washington and King's funeral.

    "She put her career and faith on the line, and both of them prevailed," Jesse Jackson says. "And, of course, when she got through with the big meetings, she could cook as good as she could sing."

    When food is cooked with love and soul, you can taste it. Her friends say that what made Mahalia Jackson a great singer is what made her a great cook: Her heart and her home were always open, especially to the young. Mavis Staples says you can feel her love and faith after all these years.

    Mahalia Jackson

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