Odetta, Voice of Civil Rights Movement, Dies at 77. New York Times.
Rosa Parks, the woman who started the boycott of segregated buses in Montgomery, Ala., was once asked which songs meant the most to her. She replied, “All of the songs Odetta sings.”
Odetta sang at the march on Washington, a pivotal event in the civil rights movement, in August 1963. Her song that day was “O Freedom,” dating to slavery days: “O freedom, O freedom, O freedom over me, And before I’d be a slave, I’d be buried in my grave, And go home to my Lord and be free.”
From the blog post of July 22, 2008, which eventually led to the writing of the song City: “We were in Washington Park, opening for the great Odetta. Who killed it. Frail and wheelchair-bound but positively glowing when she smiled and still fierce when she opened her mouth to sing – growling, roaring, whispering, soaring. Glory Hallelujah, indeed…” [more]