Since co-founding the Carolina Chocolate Drops in 2005, Rhiannon Giddens has long since branched out on her own. NPR named her one of its “25 Most Influential Women Musicians of the 21st Century,” and American Songwriter called her “one of the most important musical minds currently walking the planet.”
The eclectic folk music artist is an opera-trained, two-time Grammy Award-winning singer; a reproduction instrumentalist; a MacArthur “Genius” grant recipient; the artistic director of Silkroad; and a prize-winning composer of opera, ballet, and film.
Giddens centers her work around advocating an understanding of the country’s musical origins by celebrating people whose contributions to American musical history have been overlooked or erased.
Because she explores other creative possibilities just as actively as she has American musical history, her links to American historic and pop culture are broad. She wrote the 2023 Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Omar with film composer Michael Abels (Get Out, Us, Nope). With her partner Francesco Turrisi, she wrote and performed the music for Black Lucy and the Bard, which was recorded for PBS’ Great Performances. She also had a recurring role in the ABC hit drama Nashville and was featured in Ken Burns’ Country Music series, also on PBS.
She has also published children’s books; created music for a video game; is a three-time NPR Tiny Desk Concert alum; and hosts her own show on PBS, My Music with Rhiannon Giddens.
“I’ve been able to create a lot of different things around stories that are difficult to tell and managed to get them done in a way that’s gotten noticed,” Giddens says.
She will release You’re the One, her first all-originals collection, on Nonesuch Records in August.
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Patricia Best and Thomas Ray
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