“The first thing that turned me on to folk singing was Odetta” – Bob Dylan
“Odetta was a goddess. Her passion moved me. I learned
everything she sang” – Joan Baez
Dubbed the “Queen of American folk music” by Martin Luther King Jr in 1961, Odetta Holmes was one of the most influential recording artists of the 20th century and an important voice of the Civil Rights Movement. A powerhouse vocalist who toured well into her 70s, often performing from a wheelchair in later years, she released some 25 albums over her impressive career. By the time she died on December 2, 2008, Odetta had amassed a vast catalogue of folk, blues and spiritual songs and it’s from all corners of this that the songs of Beautiful Star: The Songs Of Odetta are drawn.
Curated by Wears The Trousers editors Alan Pedder and Charlotte Richardson Andrews, this heartfelt, diverse tribute reimagines some of Odetta’s signature tunes, underlining how her wide-ranging and enduring influence transcends any perceived boundaries of age, race or genre. With exclusive new tracks from established independent artists like Ane Brun, Marissa Nadler and Liz Durrett and newcomers like Haunted Stereo and Katey Brooks, Beautiful Star revisits not only the many traditional songs Odetta helped to revive (‘Santy Anno’, ‘If I Had A Ribbon Bow’) and the familiar classics (‘All The Pretty Little Horses’, ‘This Little Light Of Mine’), but also some of her lesser known recordings like the haunting title track, one of the few songs Odetta wrote herself.
What these 16 tracks share above all else is a love for the material and a profound respect for the woman who did much to popularise it.
"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 recognise time" – Maya Angelou
First established as an online magazine in 2005 and now occasionally in print, Wears The Trousers (www.wearsthetrousers.com
) has grown into a respected voice for women in the music industry. All profits from sales of the album will be split evenly between two charities chosen by Wears The Trousers in recognition of their incredible work on behalf of women. The Fawcett Society (www.fawcettsociety.org.uk
) is the UK’s leading organisation campaigning for equality between women and men, making real differences in women’s lives by creating awareness, leading debate and driving change. The Women’s Resource Centre (www.wrc.org.uk
) works to bring women’s organisations together, helping them to be more effective and sustainable.
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"Where this compilation has really succeeded quite magnificently is in the remarkable coherence that it has managed to bring to this fairly disparate collection of artists. Where all too often 'Various Artists' releases can simply sound like a random agglomeration of songs with very little connection, here there is a very recognisable sense of the album as a complete and whole entity." **** - MusicOMH
"The artists here are well chosen, and so – unlike so many mixed-bag tribute compilations - Beautiful Star comes across as a consistent piece overall, with sparse, atmospheric song settings and an abundance of female musicians from the weird, raw, and ethereal end of the folk spectrum whose interpretations only beg deeper appreciation through multiple listens." – Cover Lay Down
"Unlike many a tribute album, the songs are treated with huge respect and delivered in much the same style and spirit that Odetta blessed them with, so there are no cringeworthy rap or RnB versions to try and excuse. It is an understated, respectful take on some of the most powerful, yet simple, folk music ever written and a perfect replacement for those scratchy old recordings which suffer badly at the hands of modern hi-fi..." – The Music Fix
released 30 November 2009
Executive producers: Alan Pedder and Charlotte Richardson Andrews
Artwork by Jo Harrison. Mastered by Dean Fishburn at Cranworth Studios, London. This compilation (P) and (C) Wears The Trousers Records / www.wearsthetrousers.com
All songs traditional except 10, written by Odetta Gordon (P) 1963 Pookie Tree Pub Co.
Linda Draper appears courtesy of Planting Seeds Records. Ane Brun appears courtesy of Ballon Ranger Recordings and herself. Gemma Ray appears courtesy of Bronzerat Records. Josephine appears courtesy of Ark Recordings. Pepi Ginsberg appears courtesy of Park The Van Records. Marissa Nadler appears courtesy of herself.
Kelli Ali would like to thank Steve Abu Nab and Luke Buttery of The Way Studio, London, for their generosity.
Wears The Trousers would like to thank all the musicians who gave their time willingly and freely to bring this project to life.
Special thanks to Jo Harrison for the stunning artwork.
Additional thanks to Sarah Jackson, Rosanna Downes and The Fawcett Society, Leah Williams and the Women's Resource Centre, Vanessa Cotton @ Triad Publicity, Matt Brown @ Stay Loose Digital Group, Chris Lucraft @ Broken Sound Music, Mikael Gustavsson @ Headstomp, Andy Zammit and Ollie Cornish @ Bronzerat Records, Carrie Ridley @ Solar Management, Adrian Metso, Po' Girl and Shingai Shoniwa.