Gonna Let It Shine: A Concert for the Holidays

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Recorded live at Fordham University in New York City for a public radio broadcast, this spotlights the spirituals in Odetta's repertoire, including such standards as "Down by the Riverside," "Midnight Special," and "This Little Light of Mine." Other songs are more specifically related to the Christian religion, such as "Virgin Mary Had One Son," "Poor Little Jesus," and "O Jerusalem." It's thus not one of her more typical records, but she is in strong, soulful voice in this recording. The accompaniment is sparse but sympathetic, Odetta performing on vocals only, with bluesy pianist Seth Farber supplying the sole instrumental backing. The Holmes Brothers sing backup vocals on three tracks, but otherwise Odetta's carrying the show, the set leaning more toward low-key gospel than the folk music for which she's most known. For that and other reasons, it couldn't be said to be among the better Odetta records. But it's a satisfactory one, and one of those uncommon holiday records that stays true to the best and most respectful, uplifting spiritual qualities of Christmas, though the themes are universal enough for this to be enjoyed at other times of the year as well.

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