On Thursday, October 26 at 8 p.m., join in the fun at UCSB’s Campbell Hall as co-founder of the Grammy Award-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rhiannon Giddens, brings audiences to their feet with her elegant, bearing, prodigious voice and fierce spirit. Her debut album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, masterfully blends American musical genres like gospel, jazz, blues and country, showcasing her extraordinary emotional range and dazzling vocal prowess. Giddens’ follow-up album, Freedom Highway, offers what Pitchfork.com calls, “beauty and gravitas” delivered by her “perfectly ornate soprano.”
Known for playing banjo and fiddle in the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Giddens began gaining recognition as a solo artist when she stole the show at the T Bone Burnett-produced Another Day, Another Time concert at New York City’s Town Hall in 2013. Her critically acclaimed solo debut, Tomorrow Is My Turn, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Giddens’ follow-up album, Freedom Highway, was released on February 24. It includes nine original songs Giddens wrote or co-wrote along with a traditional song and two civil rights-era songs, “Birmingham Sunday” and Staple Singers’ well-known “Freedom Highway,” from which the album takes its name.
Giddens’ recent televised performances include The Late Show, Austin City Limits, Later…with Jools Holland and both CBS Saturday and Sunday Morning, among numerous other notable media appearances. She performed for President Obama and the First Lady on a White House Tribute to Gospel, along with Aretha Franklin and Emmylou Harris; the program was televised on PBS. Giddens duets with country superstar Eric Church on his powerful anti-racism song “Kill a Word,” which ranked top 15 on country radio; the two have performed the song on The Tonight Show and the CMA Awards, among other programs. Giddens received the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Singer of the Year and has won the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Bluegrass and Banjo in 2016.
The rise of Giddens’ career is told in the CBS Sunday Morning special, featuring footage of her at UCSB during her previous Arts & Lectures performance. Come experience the performance that is what The Boston Globe calls, “Americana in its purest form” on October 26 at Campbell Hall.