THE ALBUM This beautiful collection of traditional black gospel spirituals, sung by one of America's greatest folk artists, was recorded in 1988. Originally released under the title Christmas Spirituals, it was Odetta's first studio recording over fifteen years. She brought in bassist Bill Lee (Spike Lee's dad!) to record the tracks she had performed almost twenty years previously for Vanguard Records and percussionist Carole Steele.Initially released on Alcazar Records, it went on to win the INDI Award for Best Seasonal Release and to sell thousands of copies throughout the world.
Shortly after her passing, in tribute to Odetta, the album was reissued and retitled after one the album's original songs, 'Beautiful Star'. The songs are mainly traditional spirituals such as Rise Up Shepherd and Follow, Go Tell It On The Mountain, and Virgin Mary Had OneSon, interspersed with originals by Odetta such as Beautiful Star and If Anybody Asks You, plus new lyrics by Rachel Faro on OJerusalem.
Although Beautiful Star is available all year 'round, it is during the Christmas season that its songs really come to life. It is our sincere wish that these songs and Odetta's majestic and resonant voice will transport us, bringing peace and joy to all who hear it.
"The spirit is the area that I am addressing, by way of these songs. I hope that they will touch within us something that will help people to give birth to their own individual light, and to spread that light throughout the world." -- Odetta
THE ARTIST ODETTA (b. December 31, 1930 – d. December 2, 2008)
On December 3, 2008 one of the world's great voices was stilled. Odetta, who Martin Luther King, Jr, called "The Queen of American Folk Music", reigned for over thirty years with her rich voice and the honest, majestic beauty of her presence.
Odetta was born on December 31, 1930, in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1956 she released her first solo album, Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues, which has been called the "soundtrack of the Civil Rights Movement." Time magazine raved about "the meticulous care with which she tried to recreate the feeling of her folk songs." Odetta quickly followed with two more highly acclaimed folk albums.
During the 1960s, she lent her powerful voice to the cause of black equality. She performed at political rallies, demonstrations and benefits. In 1963, during the March on Washington, Odetta gave the most iconic performance of her life: Singing from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial after an introduction by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Odetta also recorded more than a dozen albums during the 1960s.
One of the greatest American folk singers of all time, Odetta has been cited as a prominent influence by such legendary musicians as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Janis Joplin. President Bill Clinton presented her with a National Medal of Arts in 1999. In 2004, she was made a Kennedy Center honoree and in 2005, the Library of Congress awarded her its Living Legend Award.
"ODETTA", perfomed by the Alvin Ailey Dance Company Choreography by Matthew Rushing
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