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  • Writer's pictureTerry Pace

ODETTA: SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE A MOTHERLESS CHILD

Updated: Apr 2, 2020



Odetta (Holmes) RIP 1930-2008. Often referred to as the voice of the civil rights movement and the queen of American folk music. A powerful, honest singer of mournfulness, brokenness, determination, hope and faith. She influenced Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Carly Simon, Mavis Staples, Harry Belafonte, Tracy Chapman, and Janis Joplin to list a few. She is gospel, folk, blues, rock, jazz and classical all in one! Personally her songs seem to reflect the stories of many of my patients, in their struggles to find freedom and peace, so she has been an inspiration, a challenge and a comfort to me. Maya Angelou reportedly said of her - "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 time." Sometime I feel Like a Motherless Child is a blues standard derived from a Black spiritual going back to the days of slavery and carried forth through generations in the south. The song captures the depression of loneliness, discrimination, and rejection. For many of my patients over the years, they often agreed that the emotion expressed by Odetta in this song told of their own heartache.

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