47 Years Ago Today: Richie Havens Opens Woodstock with “Freedom”

47 years ago today, beloved performer and New Orleans festival favorite Richie Havens opened the first day of the Woodstock Festival. With his soulful voice and gentle demeanor, Havens embodied the hippie era’s spirit of peace and love in the purest sense, and his now-iconic rendition of “Freedom (Motherless Child)” set the tone for what would become a defining moment of the 1960s.

Havens passed away in April of 2013, but he left behind an extensive catalog that goes much deeper than his triumphant Woodstock set (and even includes an appearance on Preservation Hall’s 2010 tribute album Preservation). Read more about his connection to New Orleans here, and check out that classic “Freedom” below.