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Your Black News: Tavis Smiley Remembers Iconic Singer, Odetta

December 13, 2008 Leave a comment

ON the same day, on the same steps where Martin Luther King Jr. would deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, Odetta—only 33 but already a folk-music force—sang “I’m on My Way.” And she was. [...]

Her final interview—which she gave 10 months before her death from heart failure on Dec. 2—was with PBS host Tavis Smiley. He spoke to NEWSWEEK’s Samantha Henig about his memories of a woman whose optimism brought him to tears:

After our interview, Odetta performed “Keep On Moving It On”—a song whose hopeful lyrics in the midst of a historic election brought tears to my eyes in January. [...]

Off camera, I asked Odetta why she remains hopeful, and she talked about the path that the country had traveled just in her life. She said she could not have imagined back in her heyday that she’d ever be on PBS talking to a black man who had his own show [...]

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