Rhiannon Giddens is an American musician who is considered something of a maestro in some circles because of her skills with the banjo and violin. While her talent for musical instruments has brought her fame and recognition, Rhiannon Giddens is an equally accomplished singer. Let’s take a look at her family, career, and adventure with Grammy Award-winning group Carolina Chocolate Drops.
Rhiannon Giddens Biography
Born on February 21, 1977, in Greensboro, California, Giddens is the daughter of Deborah A. Jamieson and David Giddens. Her father is white, while her mother is African-American. Giddens has another sibling, a sister named Lalenja Harrington. Although she has made a name for herself in the entertainment industry, it wasn’t always so when she grew up, she was considered a geek by some people. She attended the North Carolina School of Science and Technology.
The various genres associated with her work include gospel, soul, jazz, country, old-time music, and folk. She attended the 2005 Black Banjo Then and Now meeting in North Carolina where she met the couple Sule Greg Wilson and Dom Flemons. Not long after that the band known as Sankofa Strings was born.
While playing with these people on this site, Rhiannon Giddens was also regularly involved in local contra dances. This happened alongside a music group called Gaelwynd, who soon after, with the help of Giddens and Flemons, joined forces with the Sankofa Strings and formed a band that turned out to be a hit band: Carolina Chocolate Drops.
The new band specialized in blues, old-time music, and country and later won a Grammy, but gradually disbanded over the years.
In 2009 Rhiannon Giddens and her friend Cheryse McLeod Lewis dropped the single Because I Knew by the name under the name Eleganza. In 2013, Giddens began pursuing the vision of a solo career. She produced what many onlookers described as the best performance during “Another Day, Another Time” – a concert inspired by the film Inside Llewyn Davis. Giddens’ protest song was contributed in support of the NC NAACP and the Moral Monday Movement.
Her debut solo album was released in 2015 when she released Tomorrow Is My Turn on Nonesuch Records. The album received some impressive reviews for its artistic brilliance. Giddens received several awards, gave keynote speeches, and continued the good work of creating ever more beautiful music over the years.
Besides her musical career, Giddens also ventured into acting with considerable success. She performed two consecutive seasons of CMT in Nashville, where she played Hannah Lee “Halle” Jordan. She has also performed several songs in this series.
Giddens is married since 2007. She has made the alliance with the Irish musician Michael Laffan. Their union was blessed with two children, a daughter, Aoife, and a son, Caoimhin, but the two are now separated. Giddens’ parents are Deborah A. Jamieson and David Giddens, who come from very different backgrounds, giving Giddens a multiracial lineage with roots to white, Indian and African-American origins.
Other Important Facts About Rhiannon Giddens
Giddens began singing at a very young age. In an interview, her parents both said that to her great astonishment she was only two years old when she started singing without being asked.
Giddens studied opera at the Oberlin Conservatory and graduated in 2000.
When she won the 2016 Steve Martin Prize for excellence in banjo and bluegrass, she was the first colored person and the first woman to win this award.
Giddens was the first American woman to be honored as Folk Singer of the Year at the BBC Radio2 Folk Awards.
The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame introduced the Carolina Chocolate Drops into the fold.
When the class of MacArthur “Genius” scholarship holders was named in 2017, Giddens was a part of it.
Her second solo album “Freedom Highway” was released in 2017.
Giddens found herself the only female writer on Bob Dylan’s New Basement Tapes.
Giddens’ parents have been divorced for a long time.
The Grammy that Carolina Chocolate Drops won was for Best Traditional Folk Album; she had been nominated twice before.