Rhiannon Giddens welcomes focus on black country artist, but her style hasn’t changed


When Rhiannon Giddens takes the stage for her first performance at the recently renovated Longhorn Ballroom on Tuesday, the music promises to be extraordinary and incredibly timely.

Giddens is one of many black artists who have spent years trying to correct misconceptions about the history of country and folk music, especially the widespread belief that the history of these genres is almost entirely white.

Ahead of her show at one of Dallas’ most historic country venues, efforts to clear up the contest’s record are finally going mainstream. For that, you have one very famous Texan to thank.

“When Beyoncé comes along and reveals this history in a way that only someone of her stature can, it’s ready to explode because there’s a group of very, very hard-working people who have been keeping these issues alive,” Giddens said. “Now there’s a bright spot for all this work, and a lot of the same people are finally being interviewed Cowboy Carter And talking about it in a super beautiful way.

“Black people didn’t invent country music, and white people didn’t invent country music,” Giddens said. “It was born out of an incredibly complex, multi-layered collaboration that lasted more than two centuries.”(Ebru Yildiz)

She began listing names who championed inclusion and racial progress within the often homogenous confines of this country — Rissi Palmer, artist and Apple Music presenter Color my country; Alice Randall, songwriter and author; Holly G, journalist and Black Opry founder. But Giddens’ modesty belies her monumental, zeitgeist-changing contributions to the genre over the past two decades.Giddens’ banjo and viola create an irrepressible groove Cowboy Carter‘s lead single “Texas Hold ‘Em” is now No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart. However, that’s just 3 minutes and 53 seconds of the multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter’s prolific and wide-ranging body of work.

Giddens is a two-time Grammy Award winner and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, and his voice can be heard everywhere from soundtracks to Red Dead Redemption 2One of the most popular video games of all time, Go to the Opera: omarHer opera “”, co-written with Michael Abels, won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Her most recent release as a soloist was last year’s “You’re The One,” her first original song; it was nominated for two Grammy Awards. She has collaborated with everyone from T. Bone Burnett to Allen Toussaint to Renée Fleming, clearly crossing genres and possessing a deep knowledge of musical history stretching back to the earliest days of recorded and commercial music.

The North Carolina native’s path to the spotlight began as co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a group that made waves for the way it interpreted and reconstructed early African American musical traditions, especially The often overlooked black string band tradition. The band’s success eventually opened doors for artists such as Taj Mahal and Bob Dylan, opening the door for many black folk, country and Americana artists.

It also heralded the work of local scholar, artist and activist Brandi Waller-Pace, who founded the Decolonizing Music Room and the Fort Worth African American Roots Festival. Giddens is a board member of the Decolonizing Music Room and has been a strong supporter of Waller-Pace’s efforts. “Afro-American, roots, old time, country — whatever you want to call it — music is booming,” Giddens said. “But we need spaces within the black community to be able to come together and attract each other, and then go back to the largely white spaces where we all exist. This is a really important cultural work she’s doing, and it needs to be done in a way that matters. Provide support in a sexually proportionate manner.

In her own work, Giddens again pushes outward. She is writing a book, “While the World Was on Fire: How a Powerless Underclass Created the Powerful Music that Made America.” “My focus is on working-class holistic, cross-cultural collaboration, which is really the basis of this music,” she said.

“Black people didn’t invent country music, and white people didn’t invent country music,” Giddens continued. “It was born out of an incredibly complex, multi-layered collaboration that lasted more than two centuries. How do we unite from our shared history so that we realize that the same patterns are happening today that pit us against each other so that the same wealthy people Can you stay wealthy?”

This is just a small sample of the deep reflections and rich history that will be featured in Giddens’ play next Tuesday. “We’re telling a good story with these tunes now, and that’s what we like,” Giddens said. “Stories and energy.”



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