Odetta Holmes Dies at Age 77

Her beautiful voice has resonated in the minds and hearts of people for years now as her undeniable passion and heart shone through. After a life well-lived, using her talents to speak up about the things she was most passionate about, music legend Odetta has passed away at seventy-seven years of age.

Odetta Holmes was a folk singer who was known world-wide for not only having an incredibly powerful voice but also for having a voice filled with emotion. She used her music to fight for the things she believed in and this ultimately led to her gaining a reputation as a civil rights champion. She was also very outspoken against segregation. These were things that likely touched her deeply during the course of her life and you could hear that her music was especially riveting when it came to dealing with these issues.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, on December 31, 1930, Odetta Holmes ended up moving to Los Angeles shortly after the death of her father. Music was always a part of her life and she was in a group known as the Madrigal Singers in junior high. By the time she finished school, she had earned a degree in music from the Los Angeles City College. Before long she landed a chorus part in the production of ’Finian’s Rainbow’, the show that started it all for her. She got her big break traveling with the production to San Francisco where she discovered how to truly use her voice to echo the emotions of millions around the globe. After that it was a short step to the folk songs through which she learnt the real history of her people and which inspired her passion for equal rights for all humans.

Over the years Odetta has become a world-renowned singer who continued to perform late into her life despite chronic illness. Odetta had been struggling with chronic heart disease and pulmonary fibrosis for quite some time, but despite this she managed to sing for 90 minutes at as many as 60 concerts in the past two years. Despite her failing body, her voice and her passion never wavered. She has been credited with inspiring other musicians such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Janis Joplin. After a long and inspiring life, music legend Odetta finally left us on Tuesday, December 2, 2009. She will be fondly remembered by family, friends and fans and her passion for what was right will no doubt live on in their hearts for many years to come.