Rhiannon Giddens has a “good” voice like Bob Dylan writes “good” songs, and she wields her glorious gift with show-stopping sensitivity and technical prowess. Utilizing a disparate collection of musicians and nearly a century’s worth of songs, her work illustrates American music’s democratic shape and evolution and illuminates facets of the human condition. A founding member of New Basement Tapes and Carolina Chocolate Drops, Giddens’ journey began at home in North Carolina’s Piedmont region, known for its rich old-time music legacy. Her study of opera at the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory was diverted by a side contra-dance calling interest, leading her towards old-time music, and eventually to Grammy-winning string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops.
Giddens’ 2015 solo T Bone Burnett-produced debut album Tomorrow is my Turn revives, interprets and recasts traditional material from sources central to Giddens’ career. An homage to musical and spiritual female forebears from Odetta, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Dolly Parton to relative unknown Geeshie Wiley, the songs are underscored by fuzz-toned rockabilly guitar, joyful call-and-response testifying and R&B swing. Sensitive, fierce and charismatic, she brings all of her being to her performances: social conscience, a deep sense of history, and most of all a nuanced feel for the soul of the music. Whether faithfully recreating Gaelic mouth-music, interpreting a staid coffeehouse standard as a sultry dance track, or giving an R&B song a wild old-timey spin, it's obvious why T-Bone Burnet called her the most profound music artist working today. LS/FF/KC