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Morning Song – You Gotta Know How

March 11, 2016

If you know blueswoman Sippie Wallace’s song, “You Gotta Know How”, chances are it’s from Bonnie Raitt’s terrific early (for her, it was 1972, decades after Wallace’s heyday of singing with the likes of King Oliver) cover of it on one of her first albums. But I love this late-in-life clip of the incomparable Odetta performing it, because it shows that she really knows how.

As a young woman, the operatically-trained, politically engaged Odetta was one of the few female singers of her era to throw back her head and sing loud and proud. And she had a phenomenal voice.

But by the time of this recording, decades of smoking (and living) had taken its toll on her body, and on that magnificent voice.  Nevertheless, watch children and learn.  This is a woman who’s learned something every year of her life. Whether it’s singing (or, one suspects, loving) she’s mastered tricks the young folks don’t even know exist.

…Not to brag or nothing, but I do know how.

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