Odetta: The Voice Of The Civil Rights Movement

Jun 27, 2019

Credit unsonmonkatat.jpg

On December 3rd, Doug Yeager who was in town to share his film, Free to Rock: How Rock and Roll Brought Down the Wall, came into WVXU's studio to talk about his friend, Odetta.  He was her manager from 1976 until her passing in 2008.  During our conversation, Doug shared many stories about Odetta including her friendships with Dr. Maya Angelou and Harry Belafonte.  He also discussed her influence on many, many musicians over the decades of her career...Bob Dylan; Joan Baez; Madeleine Peyroux; Peter, Paul & Mary; Richie Havens, and Janis Joplin.

One poignant story was about the march from Selma to Montgomery, and the close call that Harry Belafonte & Odetta had afterwards.  Doug also touched on Odetta's activities shortly before 9/11 and afterwards and how musicians across the country were impacted by the event.  Odetta's archives and where they may end up was discussed, too.

"If only one could be sure that every 50 years a voice and a soul like Odetta's would come along, the centuries would pass so quickly and painlessly we would hardly recognize the time.  One of my great blessings is to have known her for 50 years, to have been enriched by hearing that voice, to have been informed by knowing that soul.  This great artist sings the drama, and yes, the comedy of this human journey.  The stations we've arrived at tardily and the destinations we have missed entirely.  Her mouth was full of the glory of our aspirations.  Thank you, Odetta, for continuing to define and enlighten our load."  - Dr. Maya Angelou, August 1999

"Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry" book was released in 2015.  

Doug Yeager also said that he and Odetta's family are planning on starting the production of a documentary about her life in 2019.

Doug Yeager