Rhiannon Giddens reflects on ‘pinch me’ moments

Rhiannon Giddens

How remarkable have the past several years been for rising vocal star and charismatic American roots-music champion Rhiannon Giddens?

“I should be black and blue! There have been a lot pinch-me moments,” said Giddens, 37, who performs her San Diego solo debut next Wednesday at the Belly Up.

Rhiannon Giddens, with Bhi Bhiman

When: 8 p.m. next Wednesday, May 6

Where: Belly Up, 143 S. Cedros Ave., Solana Beach

Tickets: $22. Must be 21 or older to attend.

Phone: (858) 481-8140


Here is a look at some of those moments...

Carolina Chocolate Drops, the group she co-founded in 2005, won its first Grammy Award in 2011. As far as can be determined, this makes the operatically trained Giddens the first classical music graduate of the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory to earn a Grammy in the Best Traditional Folk Album category.

In 2011, she and the Carolina Chocolate Drops teamed up with top Irish music band The Chieftains. They recorded “Pretty Little Girl,” a highlight on The Chieftains’ 50th anniversary album, 2012’s “Voice of Ages.” The same year saw her write the song “Daughter’s Lament,” which she and Carolina Chocolate Drops recorded for “The Hunger Games” soundtrack album. which was produced by T-Bone Burnett.

In late 2013, Giddens was invited to sing at an all-star concert at New York’s Town Hall that celebrated the release “Inside Llewyn Davis,” the Coen brothers’ folk-music-fueled film. The lineup included Patti Smith, Joan Baez, Elvis Costello, Jack White, Punch Brothers and others. But it was Giddens who stole the concert and was singled out for praise in subsequent reviews of the concert, which was released as an album and filmed for the HBO TV special, “Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating the Music of ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’.”

In 2014, she joined Costello, Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons, Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes to compose and record music to some unpublished Bob Dylan lyrics. The result is the acclaimed album, “Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes,” for which Giddens was again singled out for praise.

Burnett, who produced both “The New Basement Tapes” and the “Inside Llewyn Davis” concert, was so impressed that he offered to produce Giddens’ first solo album. The result is “Tomorrow Is My Turn,” which was released in February on Nonesuch Records. It is already a strong contender for 2015 Album of the Year honors.

“It’s kind of remarkable, everything that’s happened to me. It’s been such a whirlwind, but in a good way,” said Giddens, who on April 14 sang at the White House for President and Mrs. Obama as part of a lineup that included Aretha Franklin, Emmylou Harris, Shirley Caesar and Lyle Lovett. The concert will air June 26 on PBS as part of the “In Performance at the White House” series.

Giddens has been justly hailed for her ability to dig deep into classic songs by such vocal greats as Odetta and Nina Simone, whose version of “Tomorrow Is My Turn” provides both the foundation and point of departure for the title track of Giddens’ new album.

But ask her which artists inspired her when she was young, and Giddens points to Nashville, before Nashville became overrun by simplistic sound-alikes singing about trucks, drinking, women and more drinking.

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Source: DiscoverSD