You may not know the name Rhiannon Giddens right now, but over the next few months, you certainly will.
As well as being a founding member of the American trad/folk act the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rhiannon was an integral part of the recent New Basement Tapes project that created music to accompany a tranche of unrecorded lyrics from the one and only Bob Dylan.
Her first solo album, Tomorrow Is My Time, recorded with legendary producer T-Bone Burnett at the controls, is a beautiful collection of covers by some legendary women artists. She was in Dublin recently and spoke to GazetteMusic about the release.
The solo record came about through her appearance at the Another Day, Another Time concert, celebrating the roots of the music that inspired the Coen Brothers movie, Inside Llewyn Davis, in New York in 2013 where she simply stole the show with a performance of Waterboy, made famous by iconic American singer and civil rights activist Odetta.
“I kind of made a big impression there, and a few weeks later I got the call that T-Bone wanted to do a record with me. I was focused on the next Chocolate Drops album, and it came a bit out of the blue, but when T-Bone comes calling, you don’t tell him you’ll get back to him!”
When Burnett did call, he asked Rhiannon what songs she would like to include on her dream album, and it proved a timely question.
“I had a list of songs that were not fitting into the Drops’ repertoire, and they happened to be all by women or definitively interpreted by women, and not just any woman, but specifically by women who were in Americana and at a specific time period and who had inspired me a lot.”
Those inspirational women include Odetta, Nina Simone, Patsy Cline and Dolly Parton, a wide palette that reflects Rhiannon’s passion and deep knowledge of the sources of the music that she creates.
“American music is a mixture of black music, white music, native music, European music, African, it’s all a mixture, and jazz and country and blues all come from a common well, so it made sense to me to pick these songs.”
One thing that marks out Rhiannon is her live appearances, and touring Tomorrow Is My Time is something she says she is “super stoked” about.
“We want to tour here, the UK and Europe. I’ve put together a fantastic band, which includes the other Chocolate Drops, and added a drummer and bass player. The shows will feature Chololate Drops stuff, solo stuff, Basement Tapes stuff, and I can’t wait to bring it over.”