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Odetta - Livin' with the blues

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Published on Jan 25, 2010

Odetta is one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century. By combining the power and grace of an opera singer with the earthiness of a blues singer and the conviction of a folk singer, Odetta became a commanding, stirring singer unlike any other.




Odetta released her first album, Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues, in 1956. This is some two years before the beginning of the folk revival with which she is usually associated. The power of her singing seems to connect her to an earlier folk music, more elemental and raw than her late-50s and early-60s peers. Unlike the Highwaymen or other popular interrupters of classic folk songs, Odetta seems closer in both approach and presentation to Leadbelly. Her interest in folk music appeared to be less of a personal "revival" or awakening, than a continuation of a living tradition. She was referred to as the "female Leadbelly."

Bob Dylan was major inspired by Odetta - - in 1956 her album, "ODETTA Sings Ballads & Blues," inspired him to trade in his electric guitar for a Gibson acoustic guitar,and got him into folk .


Livin' With The Blues collects a number of Odetta's blues songs recorded for Vanguard during the 1960s, including several that have been previously unreleased. The majority of the songs feature Odetta singing and playing guitar with bassist Bill Lee holding up the bottom end. The other material includes Odetta singing folk and blues with piano, bass, and drum accompaniment.

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