Art, Advocacy and Action
Odessa Settles, Multi-Genre artist
Odessa Settles, born and raised in Nashville TN, the only sister of eight, has been on stage most of her life thanks to her singing father, Walter Settles, former member of the Fairfield Four. Odessa has served as a multi-genre artist referral entity in Nashville for many years in the areas of vocal and instrumental music, acting, modeling, spoken word, recording projects, and short films. Odessa considers herself an Americana/folk singer and novice songwriter, a lover of ukuleles and anything she can beat on (percussions, sticks, paddles, cans, buckets, tambourines, etc.). Her gifted mission in life is to minister to the sick, listen, learn, bridge gaps, sing, write bad songs, record, perform with as many people possible, and pass down the great lessons she has learned from individuals who have allowed her to share their space. Odessa’s travels have taken her around the country, overseas and back.
Odessa is a founding member of The Princely Players, a well-known music and drama group that presents African American history – covering the period of slavery through the Civil Rights Movement and current social issues - through a cappella singing and dramatic presentations. The group was formed during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and has been a feature on the NPR Wade in the Water Series, Time Life’s Music of the Civil War, BBC and TNN. The group remains active. Odessa is the manager of Seven Brothers and One Sister – a family group, Settles Connection, a recording and performing group & the Nashville Symphony Let Freedom Sing Celebration Chorus that come together yearly to celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Odessa is collaborating with Roy “Futureman” Wooten on the Black Mozart Project, which chronicles the life of Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier de St. George. She is a regular vocalist on Nashville’s TOKENS RADIO SHOW which recently released a “Live” CD recording entitled The Best So Far: Odessa Settles that features a few of Odessa’s musical contributions to the show. In addition to staged performances, the Tokens Show airs on WSM 650 AM Radio each Sunday during the show’s season. Odessa is also a cast member of the musical drama The Soldier’s Song which focuses on the music of the Civil War - written by Award-winning Songwriters & Producers Wood Newton and Daniel L. Johnson.
Settles Connection i s a recording, singing and songwriting group based in Nashville TN founded by Odessa Settles. Settles Connection’s purposes are to help preserve folk, traditional, and gospel music, create recordings and performances through collaborative efforts, and fulfill a personal desire to honor their father’s, Walter J. Settles (1928 -1999) - former member of the Fairfield Four - contributions to America’s traditional performance art culture. Members include Odessa, Calvin, Shirley, Wayne, and Sara Settles and Todd Suttles. No, this is not a typo; Todd, the Settles’ brother in spirit and connection, is the group’s phenomenal bass man with a HUGE range. The group has recorded and performed with artists such as Michael Doucet avec Beau Soleil, Tim O’Brien, Kathy Mattea, Martina McBride, Randy Travis (Dove award), Jon Vezner, T-Bone Burnett, The Gaithers, and Ralph Stanley (Oh Brother Where Art Thou), Buddy Greene, Darrell Scott, Nashville Chamber Orchestra, Shooter Jennings, Mindy Smith, Tony Joe White, Joni Bishop, Bobby Purify, Danny O’Keefe, Dave Powelson, Stella Parton and many more. Members appear on the recent Grammy-nominated recordings by Maura O’Connell, Dave Perkins, and Ashley Cleveland. Settles Connection was named an IBMA Nominee for their work on the Moody Bluegrass: Nashville’s Tribute to the Moody Blues project (Dave Harvey Producer). Along with artists above, members of Settles Connection have also shared the stage with Kenny Malone, Jerry Douglas, Casey Driessen, Andrea Zohn, Marty Stuart, Robin Roller, The Moody Blues, John Cowan, Jonell Mosser, Crystal Gayle, Keb Moe, Vince Gill, Amy Grant, The Nashville Symphony Orchestra, The Nashville Choir, American Idol’s Mandisa, and many more.
Seven Brothers & One Sister consists of the Settles siblings Walter Jr, Robert, Charles in absentia, Larry, Wayne, Calvin, Atley, and of course, Odessa. The siblings rejoined together as a family entity to pursue the music learned while growing up in a musical household while listening to their father Walter, Sr. rehearse with his singing group. The group’s father was a member of the Fairfield Four and appeared on their Grammy nominated Standing in the Safety Zone, and Grammy winner I Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray. Each brother and sister remembers a favorite song led by their father as they attempt to bring back and keep his music alive and active. The group recently appeared on two National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant supported projects led and produced by Bruce Nemerov & The Arts Center of Cannon County (ACCC): a field recording CD project entitled I’m Believin and ACCC Music Springs: Southern Music Series: A Singing Family which can be viewed on YouTube. SBAOS was an invited guest on the TEDxTalks Nashville project. The group conducts music workshops on traditional music created during slavery to the turn of the Twentieth Century and how the music related to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s-1960s.