Biography: Rhiannon Giddens is possibly best known for being the founder and lead vocals to the bluegrass band named The Carolina Chocolate Drops, who were at Roo last year on the What Stage and in 2010 at That Tent, where they played Blue Cantrell's Hit 'Em Up Style, as featured here:
Many of the members of the Drops tour as part of her band for her solo work. Giddens has collaborated with other activist North Carolinian musicians to put together protest songs. She is from a bi-racial family and mentioned in an interview with Rolling Stone that her parents had to go to another town in order to get a license to marry. She expresses interest in exploring the feminism of American women through their music. Through her solo work, Giddens has worked with the Coen Brothers and T Bone Burnett. She was involved in The New Basement Tapes collaboration with house favorite (God bless that curly head) Jim James, which you can check out here:
Discography: Tomorrow is My Turn (Feb 10, 2015) was Giddens's first solo record after releasing multiple albums with the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops over the last decade.
I was not at either of the Roo sets mentioned above, but I started listening to Giddens's work when she came to Chicago with the Carolina Chocolate Drops in preparation for a free concert at Millennium Park in 2013 that was thunderstormed out. We have been two ships in the night, so I am really hoping to catch her solo set at Roo 2015. Fingers also crossed that she is featured in a New Basement Tapes collab with the usual suspects on The Farm this year.
Sounds Like: Giddens plays violin, banjo, fiddle, kazoo, snare drum, bones, jug, harmonica, and studied opera at Oberlin Conservatory (in Lorain County, Ohio - represent). A North Carolina native, Giddens work benefits from a variety of folk and social justice influences. The title track from her recent first solo album pays tribute to the work of the late, great civil rights activist and jazz/pop/R&B/blues artist Nina Simone. In her liner notes to Tomorrow is My Turn, Giddens cites the work of Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton - whose work she covered.
Also of Note: Our girl performed tonight at the White House for a gospel music event and I'll reply with a post once there's video to share.
I'll leave you with a lovely Valentine's Day version of Black Is the Color as she performed it on Prairie Home Companion for now:
Had the pleasure of seeing Rhiannon Giddens at the Grand Ole Opry a few weeks ago. She killed, even if only for a couple of songs. Her band was sparse, but on point and the whole arrangement sounded great. Her voice is a delight.