Odetta Holmes: Queen of American Folk

As a staple of African music traditions, folk music has left a lasting legacy on not only various genres, but has produced one of the worlds greatest artists in Odetta Holmes.

Born on December 31, 1930, Odetta, began her muscial journey at the tender age of 13 by studying classical music. Her professional journey began as a member of Hollywood Turnabout Puppy Theater. It was not until after years of performing with different groups that she learned to appriecitate her voice and folk music, which was not until the 1950s. She began to recognize her talents of guitar playing and her unique voice ability that could range from genres of folk to ballad to blues. 

Because she grew up in a time of racial segregation, she resonated with the prinicples that the Civil Rights Movements stood for. So much so that she became the “Voice of the Civil Rights Movement”. And despite the world’s attempt to silence her, Odetta found strength in herself and refused to be silent. Her soulful and powerful voice made her a savior in her community and an icon in the music industry. Holems made over 35 songs and more than 30 records that touched the hearts of every African American in the country. 

“You’re walking down life’s road, society’s foot is on your throat, every which way you turn you can’t get from under that foot. And you reach a fork in the road and you can either lie down and die or insist upon your life… those people who made up the songs were the ones who insisted upon life.” -Odetta

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