With the launch of Ken Burn’s critically acclaimed Country Music documentary previewing in Nashville earlier this year at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, a special concert featuring many country music’s well-known stars was held to celebrate the long-overdue 16-hour documentary covering the roots of country music as the torch is passed from one performer to another. One of those performers was Rhiannon Giddens, a classically trained opera singer, mutli-instrumentalist and a talented composer known for her Grammy Award-winning work with her band Carolina Chocolate Drops’ album Genuine Negro Jig, provides an untold history of black women and country music.
As Burn’s documentary attempts to remove the stereotypes associated with the country music genre by providing an in-depth and realistic documentation of the impact that country music has had on modern music, Gidden’s work offers up another perspective of equal importance that radiates in her music. With an impressive repertoire that includes a Mac Arthur Fellowship, numerous albums, collaborations (Our Native Daughters) and musical scores, even appearing in the Nashville television series for two seasons, Giddens often takes the listener back in time to speak for those who could not speak or were ignored entirely. In Julie, Giddens was inspired by a 19th-century slave’s memoir to compose the song and At the Purchasers Option, Giddens used an advertisement for slavery as inspiration. Singing from the enslaved person’s point of view, she expresses the raw emotion of a person trapped in an unimaginable situation. Her music left me speechless when I first heard it because it expressed the pure emotion of difficulties, fear, and uncertainty faced by many early Americans. A talented folklorist, Giddens provides a beacon for Americans to hope again in hopeless times while keeping the American folk song and collection alive.
Earlier this year Giddens performed for “Redefining American Music” at the Boston Pops while releasing the first of two albums called Songs of Our Native Daughters. Forever breaking boundaries, Gibbon’s is on tour celebrating the May 2019 release of her latest album, There is no other, a collaborative work with Francesco Turrisi. Being described as a perfection in harmony where the performers speak to each other’s strengths and where the work is meant for reflection and ultimately bringing unity between the two performers, There is no other has intrigued listeners and has delivered an album worthy of Giddens already impressive work.
Gibbons and Turrisi will be performing October 4 and 5, 2019 at The Met Fifth Avenue Gallery 131, The Temple of Dendur in NYC.
Want to hear music from the Carolina Chocolate Drops?
Check out Gibbons performance at Bonnaroo in 2015
Gidden’s and Our Native Daughters: