Odetta Albums Ranked

Odetta Holmes (December 31, 1930 – December 2, 2008), known as Odetta, was an American singer, actress, guitarist, lyricist, and a civil and human rights activist, often referred to as “The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement”. Her musical repertoire consisted largely of American folk music, blues, jazz, and spirituals. An important figure in the American folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s, she influenced many of the key figures of the folk revival of that time, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, and Janis Joplin. Time magazine included her recording of “Take This Hammer” on its list of the 100 Greatest Popular Songs, stating that “Rosa Parks was her No. 1 fan, and Martin Luther King Jr. called her the queen of American folk music.” Here are all of Odetta albums ranked.

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10. Christmas Spirituals, 1960

Odetta – Christmas Spirituals | Records.Christmas

“This is one of my all-time favorite Christmas albums. I had a cassette tape of it back in the day and some of the songs on the CD I received seem a bit different than my original cassette, but overall, I am thrilled to have this music back in my collection.”

9. Odetta Sings The Ballad For Americans, 1960

Odetta Sings the Ballad for Americans and Other American Ballads - Album by  Odetta | Spotify

“Odetta possesses (possibly) the most powerful voice in the history of Folk Music. You don’t need heavy drum-lines and amplifiers cranked to 11 to be blown away; all you need is Odetta and her acoustic guitar. A Folk Masterpiece, enough said.”

8. At The Gate Of Horn, 1957

At the Gate of Horn by Odetta (Album, Contemporary Folk): Reviews, Ratings,  Credits, Song list - Rate Your Music

“Early stereo recording — lacking the genius of the mono mix of Ballads and Blues from the year before, but a startling example of the selling power of stereo as a form. High art, masterful recording, meticulous analog production. This is studio work, despite the appearance of it having been done in the Chicago folk night club. An influence on the American folk generation. Serious art, skillfully packaged. A dearth of recording information. Operatic heir to Paul Robeson and Leadbelly.”

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7. Odetta Sings Folk Songs, 1963

Odetta – Sings Folk Songs (1963, Vinyl) - Discogs

“This album is Odetta at her very finest. It showcases the many colors of her voice, emphasizing the gorgeous lyricism she possessed that was rarely displayed on recordings. Surely hers is the most intimate and stunning recording of “Shenandoah” to be found. Her takes on “All My Trials,” “I Never Will Marry,” “This Little Light of Mine,” “The Golden Vanity,” and “Roberta” share space in that echelon. “900 Miles” opens the collection and features the sheer size of her instrument, as do most of her recordings. “Blowin’ in the Wind” is the chink in the gorgeous armor of this album”

6. Odetta Sings Dylan, 1965

ODETTA - Odetta Sings Dylan - Amazon.com Music

“Both Odetta and Dylan in top form. this is a deeply spiritual experience to listen to. and the remastered cd has sound that is to die for – not just Odetta’s vocals but the superb accompaniment: they were all very inspired. Dylan should have been proud. I was overwhelmed.”

5. Odetta And The Blues, 1962

Odetta – Odetta And The Blues (Vinyl) - Discogs

“This CD is much different from Odetta’s, One Grain of Sand album. This is southern style gospel. I wasn’t expecting it, but after listening to it a couple of times, I have grown to like it. She has that wonderful deep voice that I love so much.”

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4. At Carnegie Hall, 1960

Odetta – Odetta At Carnegie Hall (1960, Vinyl) - Discogs

“Calling this folk music, or blues, or gospel, is simply insufficient. This is everything traditional American music can be. It’s firey, galvanized music that cuts to the very soul of the music of the United States.”

3. My Eyes Have Seen, 1959

Odetta – My Eyes Have Seen (1959, Vinyl) - Discogs

“I have loved the singing of Odetta for many years. No one can be as convincing as she in the old songs (or new creations that sound like old songs.) On this CD, several of her finest performances are captured. No More Cane on the Brazos is among my favorite songs of hers, an eerie and devastating guitar/bass intro leads to a song that would have to cheer up several levels to be mournful. Boy, you can feel the sun and the prison guards. Saro Jane is another great song, and Poor Little Jesus is a knockout. Any CD with these three performances of the moaning, weary voice of Odetta would be a six star winner.”

2. It’s A Mighty World, 1964

Odetta – It's A Mighty World (1964, Vinyl) - Discogs

“This LP by Odetta on RCA dates to around 1964 and never made it to CD . Odetta was part of the whole Dylan, Baez, Ochs, St Marie, Seeger 60s voice,but she always seemed more positive to me. With a huge, powerful voice, she sang of “love and things”. The title song puts later songs (the sappy “What a Wonderful World” comes to mind) to shame. But this album also includes a delightful version of “Froggy Went A-courtin.” That’s the range. I wanted a stereo copy but received a mono one which represents one problem with the limited information on the “available from these sellers” sights. So now I have two monos in excellent condition. Oh, well. I might be the only one in the world.”

1. Odetta Sings Ballads And Blues, 1957

Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues - Album by Odetta | Spotify

“This wonderful album shows it to us in all its breadth. Here he combines arpeggiated themes with pounding and a cappella singing. The blues with the songs of work, the gospel and the folk of palo. In all she is comfortable and authoritative with her powerful bellow. That and a few strums is all it takes (mos). Because not everything is going to be orchestral decorations and experimentation on sound tables with five hundred tracks. Today more than ever it is necessary to dust off this album and remember that things were done differently, with a primary and overwhelming simplicity.”