I’ve been an admirer of Rhiannon Giddens since I first heard her perform with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Sankofa Strings (along with Dom Flemons) in a jug band music documentary from 2007 called Chasin’ Gus’ Ghost. Since then she’s struck off on her own with remarkable success. So it was a pleasure to read about her new album You’re the One in the New York Times this morning, and I recommend that you pre-order it now — it’ll be released by Nonesuch on August 18. I’m hardly the first of her admirers, but there will be more, and she’ll be performing in March at the Beacon Theatre here in New York after a brief European tour. You can sample the title cut of the new album here.
Giddens and Flemons have been central in the effort to bring American roots music into the 21st century and claim a place for it in contemporary culture. Not a small part of this has been an educational effort, and as a sample of her historical studies you can watch the fine “Uncovering the History of the Banjo: From African Roots to American Music” below, first posted four months ago on YouTube.