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For Immediate Release

Media contacts:
Jane Turnis
(719) 389-6138

Leslie Weddell
(719) 389-6038


 “Living Legend” to perform for Black History Month

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Feb. 13, 2008 – African-American folk singer Odetta has been hailed as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.  In 1961, Martin Luther King Jr. anointed her “The Queen of American Folk Music”; The New York Times has called her the “Mother Empress of Folk/Blues.” In honor of Black History Month, the legendary singer will give a special performance at Colorado College’s Shove Memorial Chapel, 1010 N. Nevada Ave. at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21.  The event is free and open to the public.

Since the 1950s, Odetta has been touring the world singing folk, blues, spirituals, jazz work and protest songs, while telling the stories of America’s southern experience.  Her 1950 and 1960 classic recordings of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” “Kumbaya,” “Goodnight Irene,” “Amazing Grace” and “This Little Light of Mine” inspired an entire generation. She is known as “the voice of the civil rights movement” and was the first major influence of such artists as Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman, Carly Simon and Jewel.

Born in 1930 in Birmingham, Ala., a young Odetta moved to Los Angeles, where she joined a Hollywood acting company and studied to become a classically trained opera singer. Although it soon became apparent that no opera company in America would hire an African-American singer, Odetta did not give up on her musical gift, and instead took up the guitar and began performing African-American spirituals, protest and work songs along the west coast and beyond.

As word of her powerful voice spread, Odetta sang for the masses at the 1963 March on Washington; spoke and sang at memorials for Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X; was honored, along with Marian Anderson and Paul Robeson, at Yale University with the first Duke Ellington Fellowship Award; sang for Nelson Mandela on his first trip to America; was appointed an “elder” to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995); and was awarded the National Medal of Arts and Humanities in 1999 by then-President Bill Clinton at the White House. In addition, she was awarded the first Visionary Award at Washington’s Kennedy Center in 2003, and the Library of Congress’ Living Legends Award in 2004. 

Odetta’s most recent album, “Gonna Let It Shine,” was nominated for a 2007 Grammy Award. Real Blues Magazine, in its year-end polls, named it the #1 Gospel Album of 2006, and in a separate review of the CD, referred to it as “the most important album of this generation.” 

The concert is sponsored by a generous grant from a Colorado College alumnus, as well as the CC president’s office, office of the vice president for student life/dean of students, office of minority student life, LiveSounds and the Black Student Union.

For information, directions or disability accommodation at the event, members of the public may call (719) 389-6607.

About Colorado College
Colorado College is a nationally prominent, four-year liberal arts college that was founded in Colorado Springs in 1874. The college operates on the innovative Block Plan, in which its 1,975 students study one course at a time in intensive 3½-week blocks. Colorado College also offers a master of arts in teaching program. For more information, visit www.ColoradoCollege.edu.

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