When singer-songwriter Denitia Odigie walked on stage at the POP Montreal International Music Festival, strummed her Ibanez acoustic guitar and began to sing, she became an international favorite, earning the title “Find of the Fest.”
The gifted Odigie, BA’04, has impressed a growing number of fans and critics, inspiring one critic to exclaim, “If you bemoan the lack of passion in singers today, you must see and hear this woman sing.”
The daughter of a Nigerian father and a Louisiana Creole mother, the self-taught musician from Houston describes her music as “soul-folk.”
“I love the soul-folk groove,” she says. “It’s my first musical memory. Soul feels like passion, authenticity.”
Odigie’s delivery ranges from soft and breathy to rhythmic and belting. Her diverse musical influences include Smokey Robinson and Al Green, country stars like Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks, and the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin.
She recently signed her first publishing deal with up-and-coming Weston Boys Entertainment and expects to put out a four-song EP, Brick by Brick, later this year. Her four indie EPs—including the latest, Contrast—are available on iTunes.
From the day her mother bought the 13-year-old “a cheap electric guitar from Walmart,” she says, Odigie has been playing and writing songs. When Vanderbilt offered her an academic scholarship, she jumped at the chance to come to Nashville. While earning her degree in art history, Odigie continued crafting her songs and playing local open-mic nights, including some at the university’s Overcup Oak pub.
“I got a lot of ‘Hey kid, you’re pretty good. Keep writing,’” she recalls.
Her only vocal training came from singing in the high school chorus, leading music for her church youth group, and participating in Vanderbilt’s a cappella choir. A self-described “underground poet,” she credits a songwriting class taught by Deanna Walker, coordinator of the songwriting seminar at the Blair School of Music, with giving her the encouragement she needed to pursue her dream.
“She was awesome,” Odigie says. “I thought, I can do this.”
Odigie recently teamed up with Vanderbilt classmate Erin Higgins, BA’04, as her booking agent. Higgins has signed the singer to various venues in Nashville, across the state, and even in the Big Apple.
“Erin has spring-boarded me into a different level,” Odigie says. “I’m playing Austin soon and have been offered a residency at a music venue in New York for the summer.”
You can catch Odigie at iTunes or on her MySpace page: www.myspace.com/denitiaodigie.