When Rhiannon Giddens first came to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival in 2013, it was as part of the old-time string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops.
But when she met with Terry David Mulligan back stage at last year’s festival, it was as a solo artist who had just released another powerful, political album: Freedom Highway. That change came when producer T Bone Burnett offered to help “free her voice” with a solo album.[He] just knocked down the entire house of cards,” she said. “It was time to use my voice.”
“When T-Bone Burnett comes calling and says ‘let’s do a solo record’ … you’re an idiot if you say no.”
This Saturday, TDM has the full interview with Rhiannon — exploring that transition to becoming a celebrated solo artist, working with Mavis Staples & playing the White House, and the need for new protest songs today.
Rhiannon dives into the creation of Freedom Highway (which we picked as one of last year’s essential albums). The title track, a 1965 civil rights-era standard by Roebuck Staples, is a sign of the debt she says she owes to those who came before her.
“I feel such a responsibility. Because my life is what my parents and my grandparents fought for, my life right now. Not everyone has it as good as I have, I recognize that,” she told TDM.
“They fought so that I could think and write these songs.”
Tune in to Mulligan Stew for a fascinating chat with the artist, as well as tracks from Freedom Highway. Catch it Saturday at 5pm MT.