There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Before popular music overtook the unpopular kind, it was thought that there was nothing wrong with folk music that a voice teacher couldn’t fix. From the ’30s to the ’60s, classically trained singers from Paul Robeson to Harry Belafonte attacked everything from “Shenandoah” to “John Henry.” Although most performers in this lineage cautiously maintained their art-song bona fides, Odetta became a fixture of the folk-song revival by applying her formal schooling and summer-stock experience almost exclusively to the trad repertoire. When her recording career foundered in the ’70s, she simply pandered to folkies’ love of the “expressive” voice in person, carving out a niche as the most histrionic folksinger ever, a cross between Meat Loaf in an acid bath and a cat on fire. When she starts lining out a verse for audience participation, prepare to give it all you’ve got: She may hold the mike, but there’s safety in numbers. Odetta performs at 6 p.m. on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, Grand Foyer. Free. (202) 467-4600. (Glenn Dixon)