Legendary folk musician Odetta was born in 1930 in Birmingham, Alabama. She grew up in Los Angeles and started operatic training at the age of 13. After flirting with musical theater, after 1950 she began to focus solely on folk music, touring nationally and building a solid following at venues such as San Francisco's hungry i and New York's Blue Angel.
Odetta was involved in the civil rights movement both as a participant and as an entertainer, marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and performing at civil rights rallies.
Odetta's career spanned several decades, culminating in being awarded the National Endowment for the Arts' Medal of the Arts by President Clinton in 1999, at which time she released her first album of new music in many years, Blues Everywhere I Go. She followed this album with several more records and an international tour in 2006.
Odetta is credited as inspiring some of the greatest musicians of modern times, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Janis Joplin.