There are multi-hyphenates and then there’s Rhiannon Giddens.
The mixed-race artist who would go on to become a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor, and author grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. She originally studied opera at the Oberlin Conservatory before discovering the tradition of black banjo playing.
After studying banjo, Giddens co-founded the Americana group Carolina Chocolate Drops, which went on to release two albums and earn a Grammy award for their fourth LP, 2010’s Genuine Negro Jig. They also became the first black string band to play the Grand Ole Opry.
Giddens has released a significant amount of solo work, duo work, and group work. Her debut solo studio album Tomorrow is My Turn arrived in 2015, and she released the critically acclaimed follow-up Freedom Highway in 2017. She also received the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship in 2017.
Outside of her own music, she’s recorded albums with multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, and with the supergroup Our Native Daughters, with Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla and Allison Russell. Their debut album Songs of Our Native Daughters was released in 2019.
Giddens has also written music for the Nashville Ballet’s adaptation of Luxy Negro, Redux, the libretto for the opera Omar, and is set to release several children’s books. Giddens also had a small part in the fifth and sixth seasons of CMT’s hit series Nashville.
Rhiannon Giddens doesn’t need much time or supporting instrumentation to create fervently moving art. Even though the stripped-down qualities of They’re Calling Me Home are the result of the pandemic, they yield some of the most stirring music you’re likely to hear, this year or any other.
Rhiannon Giddens searched for a salve in the one place she knew where to find it: music. But it wasn't enough to write her way through her feelings of longing and loss. She needed the community that collaboration offered — the way that it, too, could be a home.