Folk singer Odetta to appear during King observance

Emory will celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. with a series of public observances Jan. 16-22, including an appearance by folk/gospel singer Odetta. Activities during the week include lectures, forums, worship services and discussion groups.

"Odetta Sings Songs of Freedom" will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, in Glenn Memorial Auditorium. A believer in the power of music to help people, Odetta said, "Through performing, I continue to find my own self, and the more I find myself, the less I have to deny other people themselves."

Classically trained, she first toured with "Finian's Rainbow" and later became interested in folk music when a friend gave her a guitar.

The bulk of her repertoire of folk music originates from the Archives of Folk Music at the Library of Congress. A versatile artist, she performs as a soloist in genres from folk to gospel to classical, accompanies dance concerts and acts in the theater.

Odetta was the recipient of the Duke Ellington Fellowship award at Yale University, where she participates in the "University Without Walls," a program that brings children from New Haven, Conn., to performances on campus.

New York Times music critic Stephen Holden said, "Odetta, at 61 years old, is a musician who seems virtually untouched by the years. Her clear, penetrating alto, which breaks dramatically from narrative singing into an ethereal bluesy humming, remains a flexible and stirring instrument. And onstage she radiated the same unwavering faith in the power of folk songs to bring people together that she exhibited three decades ago."

A listing of Emory's other King Holiday Observance events appears on page 8.

-- Joyce Bell