Friday, March 3
Rhiannon Giddens is best known as the lead singer, violinist, banjo player, and cofounder of the Grammy Award-winning country, blues and old-time music band Carolina Chocolate Drops. With four Grammy Awards to his credit, Dirk Powell is considered one of the world's leading experts on traditional Appalachian fiddle and banjo styles. Together, the duo forge a unique blend of American music drawing on a multiplicity of traditions.
With roots in North Carolina and Kentucky, the duo's musical heritage springs from places where the mix is particularly potent. Rhiannon brought African-American string-band traditions a new and beautiful vitality through the Carolina Chocolate Drops, and has launched a versatile solo career that confirms her status as a major American artist for this day and age.
Dirk has championed the Appalachian music of his grandfather and the Cajun/Creole sounds of his Louisiana family since his teenage years, becoming a central figure in the revitalization of both traditions, while recording and performing with artists like Eric Clapton and Joan Baez.
Together, their musical range touches on all of what makes American music the resonant force that it is, including fearless original songs written with the conviction to open and heal the wounds of racism and other forms of prejudice that continue to haunt us. They could be seen as possessing a rare multilingualism, but are, in the end, speaking one highly evolved American language; in their performances, audiences are included in a conversation that is spirited, emotional, masterful, and, in the end, transformational.