Odetta died last night at Lenox Hill Hospital.
One of the central figures of the great folk music revival, Odetta was nearly ubiquitous in my youth and continued to perform to enthusiastic audiences right through the rock era and beyond. She was a part of everyone's life and seemed to connect with musicians of all stripes. On one of the Odetta LPs in my collection, the bass player is Bill Lee, father of Spike Lee.
She had hoped to sing at Obama's inauguration. Just last year she appeared on stage in Washington singing "This Little Light of Mine."
Go to a copy of Bob Dylan's CHRONICLES to read what a powerful influence she was on his early work.
"I'm the mama and they're the children," Odetta once said of the Dylan generation. She could have said much the same for the Obama generation.