The 2003 CD simply called Odetta and released by the Vermont independent label Silverwolf Records is a recording of the folksinger's appearance at the Kerrville Folk Festival in 1996. At the outset, Odetta takes note of the recent death of Ella Fitzgerald (on June 15, 1996) and dedicates her first song, "Black Woman," to her jazz contemporary. After a spirited performance of "The Fox," she spends the bulk of her set in a 27-plus-minute medley of traditional folk songs, seguing from one to another before the audience can applaud, strumming her guitar powerfully or putting it aside to take sections a cappella. When she gets to "Poor Wayfarin' Stranger," she calls it a "white spiritual" and begins teaching the lyrics to her listeners to have them sing along. The lengthy suite provokes strong applause, and for her encore, Odetta provides a brief "Ol' Lady Sally" before leading the crowd in "Amazing Grace," a song for which she provides one key lyric substitution. It's not, she says, to be a "wretch" who's saved, but a "soul." "Ain't no wretches here," she explains.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann