A Life in Music and Protest
The first in-depth biography of Odetta, the legendary singer and "Voice of the Civil Rights Movement" who combatted racism and prejudice through her music.
leader of the 1960s folk revival, Odetta is one of the most important singers of the last 100 years. Her music has influenced a huge number of artists over many decades, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, Judy Collins, Janis Joplin, the Kinks, Carly Simon, Jewel and, more recently, Rhiannon Giddens and Miley Cyrus.
But Odetta's importance extends far beyond music. Journalist Ian Zack follows Odetta from her beginnings in a deeply segregated Birmingham, Alabama to stardom in Los Angeles, where she helped the national heal after 9/11 through her music. It's hard to imagine the Civil Rights Movement without her opera-trained voice echoing at the March on Washington, the Selma to Montgomery march, and countless other rallies and protests, large and small. Odetta channeled her anger and shame into some the most powerful folk music the nation has ever heard. Through her lyrics and iconic persona, Odetta influenced lasting political, social, and cultural change.
Through interviews with Joan Baez, Harry Belafonte, Judy Collins, Carly Simon, and many more, Ian Zack brings Odetta back into the spotlight, reminding the world of the folk music that powered the Civil Rights Movement and continues to influence generations of musicians today.
““Ian Zack has captured the essence of one of music’s most legendary icons. Odetta is a definitive and revelatory biography, truly worthy of the queen herself.” —Ronald D. Cohen, coauthor of Roots of the Revival and Folk City “An absorbing portrait of a seminal artist. Odetta was my Queen.” —Joan Baez, musician and activist”