There was an Odetta record that sat in the midst of my dad’s jazz albums. I never really took any interest in it, and regularly passed it by to play Cannonball Adderly’s ‘Them Dirty Blues’.
In 2001 I attended the WC Handy Awards in Memphis and halfway through the show, Odetta took the stage. It took one note from the powerhouse that was Odetta to make me realize I’d had a big hole in my blues education. Odetta was the real deal. Oh my God, was she the real deal.
I met her that night. She graciously listened to my praise, gave me a big hug, and moved on.
Odetta passed away today at the age of 77.