Odetta will sing 'Songs of Freedom'



* For viewers of a certain age and social conscience, any mention of folk singer Odetta offers a mental time machine back to the 1960s.

How nice, then, that she performs as a featured guest in "Songs of Freedom," a PBS Black History Month special airing tonight on Maryland Public Television (at 9 o'clock).

The latest "Evening at Pops," with conductor John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra, the program celebrates inspiring photographs, poetry and music from the Civil War to the civil rights era.

Other artists include actor Roscoe Lee Browne, soprano Shirley Verrett and the Boys Choir of Harlem.

* Could CBS have written a better script than tonight's pending climax of the women's figure skating competition at the "XVI Olympic Winter Games?"

Two Americans, Kristi Yamaguchi and Nancy Kerrigan, are atop the standings for the final long program (coverage begins at 8 p.m., Channel 11), with Japan's Midori Ito scrapping for a medal from her fall to a fourth place ranking.

* And speaking of the Olympics, do you think roller skate limbo could be arranged as an event for the summer games?

The best athletic feat of the week was on "Live With Regis & Kathie Lee" yesterday morning, as a slip of a girl on skates did the splits and rolled under a bar set just six inches off the floor.

* A reminder: Tonight's edition of "The Tonight Show" (11:35, Channel 2) is worth staying up for. Elizabeth Taylor reportedly agreed to a long-time request for a "Tonight" appearance to honor Johnny Carson's impending retirement.

And if you missed actor Michael Douglas with Maria Shriver earlier this week, he's on the guest list, too.

* Do you think movie screenings were stipulated in the contract?

The Turner Broadcast Service cable network this weekend launches a "Save the Earth Season," including a host of environmental specials and movies. And among the first is a screening Sunday (at 10:35 a.m.) of the 1979 thriller "The China Syndrome."

TBS, of course, is one of the Ted Turner family of cable enterprises. And the star of "China Syndrome" just joined the Turner family, too: She's Mr. Turner's new wife, actress Jane Fonda.

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