In the liner notes to Odetta’s 2002 album The Tradition Masters, journalist Jim Bessman wrote that “If Woody Guthrie is the father of folk music as we know it, Odetta must surely be the mother.”
Well, Odetta — who died in 2008, at the age of 77 — will be saluted by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on Mother’s Day (Sunday) at Prudential Hall of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. “Odetta,” choreographed by Ailey dancer Matthew Rushing and featuring her music, along with projections by artist Stephen Alcorn, will be presented, in its New Jersey premiere, on that day, as well as on Friday.
For a preview, see the video below.
“She was my heroine,” Joan Baez told Rolling Stone after Odetta died. “Her voice has so much power in it. You wouldn’t say she had a beautiful voice, you’d say she had a massive voice, totally grounded and rooted in things to do with the earth.”
The Ailey troupe will be at NJPAC from Friday to Sunday, but only the Friday and Sunday shows will include “Odetta” (along with “Bad Blood,” “After the Rain Pas de Deux” and “Revelations”). The program for Saturday is “Uprising,” “Suspended Women,” “Caught” and “Revelations.”
NJArts.net is giving away a pair of tickets to the May 8 show via a contest. For information on how to enter, visit NJArts.net/ticket-giveaways.