Wait. Who is that singing?
I take some pride in my early discovery: At Ribfest 2005, September at Five County Stadium, Zebulon, NC., while there to support the featured band – good friends, great band – and, oh yeah, eat some ribs – surprise – a magnificent voice stopped our tracks dead. Rhiannon Giddens – wow – who is that, and why have we not seen her before?
We got home and I started a search. Turned out Rhiannon was a recent graduate of Oberlin Conservatory now singing fiddle tunes – how curious, how awesome. I fired off an introduction email and began arranging a photo shoot.
Schedules being what they are, it wasn’t until the Carolina Chocolate Drops had formed and were well on their way national attention before we met for a photo session at Stagville Plantation’s Slave Quarters in Durham, NC.
Prairie Home Companion, Grand ol’ Opry, NPR interviews, countless magazine articles, appearance in the film, “The Great Debaters”, and a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album – and 4 years later – I asked Rhiannon if she’d sit with Armand Lenchek and I for a video interview.
Here’s and edited 16 minutes of the 80 she spent answering our creative curiosity:
via Carolina Chocolate Drops website:
This is the story in a nutshell. Rhiannon’s father was a classically-trained singer whose legacy was a warning not to study voice before the age of 16. So Rhiannon waited until she was 16 and set off for choral camp. It was great, so she applied to Oberlin College and took on the deepest part of the classical vocal river, opera. “I did five operas and three main roles,” Rhiannon summarizes, “I got into it pretty hardcore.”