Let me know what you think of each of the following performances.  If you want, rate them from 5, you love it, to 1, you hate it.

1) I will start with one of the most moving performances I have ever seen.  The folksinger, and civil rights activist, Odetta sings “Halleluja”.

Odetta Holmes (December 31, 1930 – December 2, 2008) was often referred to as “The Voice of the Civil Rights Movement”.  She was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and grew up in Los Angeles, California.  

Odetta studied music at Los Angeles City College, while employed as a domestic worker.  She had operatic training from the age of 13.  Her mother had hoped she would some day perform with the Metropolitan Opera, but Odetta doubted a large black girl would every get the chances to.

Odetta began her career in musical theater in 1944.  She went on to have a very successful career as a folk singer.  She was very involved in the civil rights movement with Dr. Martin Luther King.


Odetta was 77 at the time of this performance, six months before her death.  Her body is failing, but her voice still rings with the same powerful passion she lived her life by:

2)Townes van Zandt (March 7, 1944 – January 1, 1997) was born in Fort Worth, Texas, to an oil wealthy family.  He was the third-great-grandson of Isacc Van Zandt, one of the founders of Fort Worth.  Van Zandt County, in east Texas, was named after his family.

During his youth, Townes was noted as a good student and active in team sports.  He was recognized as a genius, and his parents began grooming him to become a lawyer, with hopes he might become a politician.

Townes experienced periods of binge drinking, and depression.  He was diagnosed with manic depression, and received three months of insulin shock therapy.  This erased much of his long term memory.

While alive van Zandt had a small, but devote, fanbase.  He never had a successful album or single.

He lost his life long battle with substance abuse in 1997, at the age of 52.



3)I’ll end with a bit of silliness, from the slightly mad British performer John Otway – “Bunsen Burner”  (He made up the lyrics to help his daughter with her chemistry homework)