Odetta – Christmas Spirituals (1988)

FrontCover1This album was recorded in 1988 at White Crow Audio in Burlington, Vermont. It was the first time that Odetta (Gordon) had done a studio recording in over fifteen years. She put her trust in a fledgling record producer, Rachel Faro, and brought in bassist Bill Lee to rerecord the tracks she had done almost twenty years previously for Vanguard Records (the album is often assumed to be a reissue of the old Vanguard recording but it is actually a completely new recording). Initially released on Alcazar Records, it went on to win the INDI Award for Best Seasonal Release and has brought joy to thousands of listeners throughout the world.

Surrounding Odetta’s remarkable voice and songs are bassists Bill Lee and Lincoln Goines, with percussionist Carole Steele. The songs are mainly traditional with two originals by Odetta and new lyrics by Rachel Faro on “O Jerusalem”. Odetta herself wrote the profound and moving liner notes (see below) and the cover is a collage created by artist Colleen Patterson, depicting the Black Madonna by the River Jordan in Egypt, with the Three Kings and three shepherds from various cultures and races in attendance. It was a great honor to work with Odetta and we still feel the power of her truth, nobility and love around us.

Odetta’s husky voice is often stunning, both in her a cappella performances and her songs with accompaniment. She says these songs are traditional spirituals, neither purely African nor American, but songs that emerged from the sufferings of slavery. Powerful stuff. (by Dennis MacDonald)

OdettaPersonnel:
Lincoln Goines (bass)
Odetta (vocals, guitar)
Bill Lee (bass)
Jeff Salisbury (percussion, drums)
Carol Steele (percussion)

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. Rise Up, Shepherd, And Follow (Traditional) 1.45
02.  What Month Was Jesus Born In? (Traditional) 2.25
03. Mary Had A Baby (Traditional) 1.52
04. Somebody Talking ‘Bout Jesus (Traditional) 2.05
05. Virgin Mary Had One Son (Traditional) 3.08
06. Go Tell It On The Mountain (Traditional) 2.01
07. Shout For Joy (Traditional) 2.31
08. Poor Little Jesus (Traditional) 1.56
09. O Jerusalem (Traditional/Faro) 2.51
10. Ain’t That A-Rockin’ (Traditional) 3.20
11. If Anybody Asks You Gordon) 2.00
12. Beautiful Star (Gordon) 2.54
13. Children Go Where I Send Thee (Traditional) 2.45

CD1

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