|Hubby Jenkins & Rhiannon Giddens|
Originally from Greensboro, North Carolina, Rhiannon Giddens studied opera as a young adult in Oberlin, Ohio. She then discovered American and European roots music and her music trajectory shifted to learning to sing and play guitar, fiddle and banjo. In 2005, Giddens was competing in Scottish music competitions and attended the Black Banjo Then and Now Gathering, in Boone, North Carolina. There she met Dom Flemons and Sule Greg Wilson, and the three started a "postmodern string band" called Sankofa Strings. Later in 2005, Giddens and Flemons teamed with other musicians and formed the Carolina Chocolate Drops; Giddens is currently the only remaining original member of the Grammy-winning band. Giddens' second and most recent solo studio album, Freedom Highway, was released on February 24, 2017. Since then, Giddens has portrayed Hannah Lee "Hallie" Jordan, a social worker with the voice of an angel, in CMT's television series Nashville. Giddens is based in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Limerick, Ireland.
Headlining a free concert at SummerStage Central Park at Rumsey Playfield, Rhiannon Giddens explored Appalachian folk, bluegrass, country and old-time music, but also expanded deeper into vintage gospel, blues, jazz, and rhythm & blues than she did with the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Her accompanists included Hubby Jenkins, her partner in the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who sang one song. Giddens' soprano featured crystal-clear tones, warm ranges and simmering emotions. The largely stringed and simplified small group arrangements captured the homespun beauty of the compositions, balanced successfully as she shifted from rural to urban roots. Giddens is an avid researcher, so she introduced many songs with enthralling timelines paralleling black history and music history. The combination of astute academics and pristine performance resulted in a riveting contextual soundtrack for a series of virtual snapshots of American musical history.
Visit Rhiannon Giddens at www.rhiannongiddens.com.