North Carolina has been called home by some very famous and remarkable individuals: Stephen Curry, James Taylor, Charlie Daniels, and Michael Jordan – just to name a few. North Carolina is also called home by the incredibly talented and beautiful singer and musician, Rhiannon Giddens, who was raised in Greensboro.
Genre. There is no placing Rhiannon Giddens in a box. She sings blues, country, folk, jazz, gospel, celtic, soul, R&B, and more. Her musical style is much like the woman herself. Growing up a biracial child of the south, she not only embraces her southern heritage, but also her African roots. She’s an American married to an Irishman, Michael Laffan, and mother to two beautiful children with very Irish names, Aoife and Caoimhin. No, there is no labeling Giddens. She is true to who she is and what she can do.
Giddens was classically trained at Oberlin Conservatory. She plays the violin and banjo. Rhiannon is part of the Grammy Award Winning African Folk Band, Carolina Chocolate Drops. They’ve released such songs as: Daughter’s Lament (included on the Hunger Games Soundtrack), Leaving Eden, Country Girl, and one of my personal favorites, Ruby, Are You Mad At Your Man? After touring with the band across the globe for nearly a decade, Rhiannon released a solo album, Tomorrow Is My Turn. In my opinion, the song that shines the brightest on the album is Angel City, which Rhiannon wrote herself. Every song on her album is very different, but they are similar in that they all have Giddens’ heart and soul poured into them. That’s how she sings and that’s what makes her so amazing.
Rhiannon Giddens is even making her way to Broadway. In July she is stepping in for the six-time Tony award-winning Audra McDonald, who is taking a temporary maternity leave, in Shuffle Along as the female lead role of Lottie Gee.
Check her out. She is amazing, as any classically trained opera singer who likes to stand on stage barefoot while playing the banjo claw hammer style, is bound to be.
Just an extra note: Rhiannon Giddens performed Bob Dylan’s, “Forever Young,” with Sam Beam of Iron and Wine for NBC’s series finale of “Parent Hood.” Sam Beam is a South Carolina native who now resides in Durham, NC.