With a prodigious voice, fierce spirit, and elegant presence, Rhiannon Giddens has crafted an American roots music experience like none other. Her show-stopping voice “sweeps, soars and snarls, driven by equal parts classical training and folksy instinct” (Rolling Stone). A common thread runs through Giddens’s versatile career—which included being the frontwoman for the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops (heard at the Festival in 2010 and 2008): she revives and recasts traditional songs from a variety of sources, at once displaying a great reverence for history while introducing her own powerful perspective. T-Bone Burnett, who produced her first solo album, remarks on Giddens: “It was clear the first time I heard her at rehearsal that Rhiannon is next in a long line of singers that includes Marian Anderson, Ethel Waters, Rosetta Tharp, Odetta, Mahalia Jackson, and Nina Simone. We need that person in our culture.” Spoleto Festival USA presents the latest contributions from this original and tenacious voice.
Check out the Festival Friday Radio blog series featuring Rhiannon Giddens’s top 10 songs below: