Reverend Marie Knight
Carolyn Hester and daughters
Josh White Jr.
Side by Side
To overestimate Odetta's influence on the generations that surround her would
Tonight, you will hear a great deal about her - about
her playing, her singing, her devotion to the rights of all people, be
they black or white, gay or straight, their stories sung or unsung.
But frankly, I take those things for granted. I assume she will be a good player,
because she is Odetta. I assume she'll sing well, because she is Odetta.
I assume she will be actively involved in causes for the betterment of
mankind because, after all, she is Odetta. I take those things for granted.
What I have never been able to take for granted is her grace, and her dignity.
When I am near Odetta, I stand a bit straighter. I speak a bit more clearly.
And I note that everyone around her does the same. When we are around
Odetta, we are one and all on our best behavior. It is not because we
feel like children about to be chastised by an adult. It is not because
we fear her, or even that we admire her.
We are on our best behavior because Odetta only sees what is best in us.
I can pay no higher compliment.
- Janis Ian