A quick google search of “queen of American folk music” and you will easily find a nice amount of information on a woman named Odetta, who was known as one of the most influential singers in the 1950’s and 60’s revival of American folk music. She was also labeled as the “voice of the civil rights movement”, according to The New York Times. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. named Odetta the “Queen of American Folk Music” and that was exactly what she proved herself to be throughout her career (theamericanscholar.org).
She was a true definition of black pride. She made strong political statements and took advantage of using her stage performances to show her fans, many who were white, that she was a proud, black woman. Odetta had a rough childhood, born during the Great Depression in Birmingham, Alabama. Segregation was going on during this time so as she grew older, she reminisced on those trying times. This is why she learned to use her platform and her music to release and share some of those past struggles.
Unfortunately, she is one of the many black artists who never got their proper recognition during their time, but now people are slowly realizing just why she was so influential. Many folk singers today credit her for her influence and impact on their love for folk music but still, little is known of who she was to people outside of the folk music industry. Black female folk singers such as Rhiannon Giddens and Lianne La Havas make sure to give much credit to her, stating that she helped pave the way and was one of the first to ever do it. Odetta helped shape the way folk music is viewed today.
Bastek, Stephanie. “The Queen of American Folk Music.” The American Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa, 24 Apr. 2020, theamericanscholar.org/the-queen-of-american-folk-music/#.X0g7AshKjIV.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “Odetta.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 27 Dec. 2019, www.britannica.com/biography/Odetta.