AN APPALACHIAN SUMMER FESTIVAL
Music - Dance - Theatre - Visual Arts - Film
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Singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens is the co-founder and front woman of the Grammy award-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops. The Greensboro native was recently named a 2017 MacArthur Fellow Genius Grant for “reclaiming African American contributions to folk and country music and bringing to light new connections between music from the past and the present.”
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. Giddens began gaining recognition as a solo artist at the T Bone Burnett–produced Another Day, Another Time concert at New York City’s Town Hall in 2013. The elegant bearing, prodigious voice, and fierce spirit that brought the audience to its feet that night is also abundantly evident on Giddens’ critically acclaimed solo debut, the Grammy nominated album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, which masterfully blends American musical genres like gospel, jazz, blues, and country, showcasing her extraordinary emotional range and dazzling vocal prowess.
Giddens’ follow-up album Freedom Highway was released in February 2017. It includes nine original songs Giddens wrote or co-wrote along with a traditional song and two civil rights-era songs, “Birmingham Sunday” and Staple Singers’ well-known “Freedom Highway,” from which the album takes its name.
Giddens’ recent televised performances include The Late Show, Austin City Limits, Later…with Jools Holland, and both CBS Saturday and Sunday Morning, among numerous other notable media appearances. She performed for President Obama and the First Lady on a White House Tribute to Gospel, along with Aretha Franklin and Emmylou Harris; the program was televised on PBS. Giddens duets with country superstar Eric Church on his powerful anti-racism song “Kill a Word,” which is currently top 15 on country radio; the two have performed the song on The Tonight Show and the CMA Awards, among other programs. Giddens received the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Singer of the Year and has won the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Bluegrass and Banjo in 2016.
Giddens makes her acting debut with a recurring role on the recently revived television drama Nashville, which debuted on CMT in January, playing the role of Hanna Lee “Hallie” Jordan, a young social worker with “the voice of an angel.”
“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.”