The Schaefer Center Presents: Rhiannon Giddens
Founding member of supergroup New Basement Tapes and Carolina Chocolate Drops
Rhiannon Giddens is known for her success as the founding front woman of the African American country, blues and old-time music group the Carolina Chocolate Drops, whose 2010 album Genuine Negro Jig earned the group a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album. The Greensboro native is also a founding member of the super group New Basement Tapes, a studio collaboration celebrating the discovery of never-seen Bob Dylan lyrics from his legendary 1967 recordings known as the Basement Tapes.
Giddens’ passion for exploring the musical traditions of Appalachia serves as a driving force in her music. After studying opera at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio she relocated back to North Carolina, where she became immersed in the rural musical traditions of the state’s western region and later met future band mates Justin Robinson and Dom Flemons at the 2005 Black Banjo Gathering in Boone. The three young musicians started visiting fiddler Joe Thompson every week, and from him learned much of an early repertoire that was all but forgotten. They formed the Carolina Chocolate Drops as a tribute to Joe Thompson, creating the group’s sound around the influence he bestowed in them in hopes to revive the traditions of African American string-band music.
Rhiannon Giddens's Nonesuch solo debut album Tomorrow Is My Turn is among NPR Music's 25 Favorite Albums of 2015. "The first thought that takes over during a listen to Rhiannon Giddens' solo debut is: This woman can sing anything," says NPR. "Stop marveling for a moment and this impeccably constructed, hotly executed collection reveals the brain and soul that feed the extraordinary voice." In this album, Giddens and T Bone Burnett revisit “Water Boy,” its Odetta-arranged work-song rhythm serving as both provocation and a statement of power. Giddens delivers an equally thunderous rendition, one made all the more striking when placed between a gentle, ruminative interpretation of Dolly Parton’s “Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind” and a version of Hank Cochran’s “She’s Got You,” popularized by Patsy Cline, that Giddens imbues with “an old-timey R&B vibe,” abetted by Carolina Chocolate Drops band-mate Hubby Jenkins. The breadth of musical vision on Tomorrow Is My Turn fulfills the promise of that brief but stunning star turn at Town Hall. The album incorporates gospel, jazz, blues, and country, plus a hint of proto-rock and roll, and Giddens displays an emotional range to match her dazzling vocal prowess throughout.
“She can summon the power of a field holler, Celtic quavers, girlish innocence, bluesy sensuality, gospel exaltation or the pain of slavery. She can sing velvety, long-breathed phrases or rasp and yip like a singer from the backwoods long ago. For all her technical control, her voice is a perpetually soulful marvel.” - Jon Pareles, The New York Times
“Rhiannon Giddens has become one of the most promising voices in American roots music.” - Rolling Stone
Rhiannon Giddens - Tomorrow Is My Turn (Album Trailer): Rhiannon Giddens, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and founding member of Carolina Chocolate Drops, makes her solo recording debut with the release of Tomorrow Is My Turn, out now on Nonesuch Records (vinyl due March 3). The album, produced by T Bone Burnett, features a broad range of songs from genres as diverse as gospel, jazz, blues, and country, including works made famous by Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Odetta, and Nina Simone.