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Rhiannon Giddens with Yo-Yo Ma: “Build a House”

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The songwriter, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist releases a powerful new song on the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, with accompaniment from cello master Yo-Yo Ma.

by Dan Gabel
June 19, 2020

Rhiannon Giddens has long been a powerful force in the roots music community as a songwriter, singer, bandleader, and multi-instrumentalist. She is a founding member of the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, who celebrate the long history of black string-band music while propelling it forward, and as a prolific solo artist. Last year, she debuted a new project with fellow banjo-wielding songwriters Amythyst Kiah, Allison Russell and Leyla McCalla called Songs of our Native Daughtersan album of originals and interpretations of songs that shine a bright light on the lives of African-American women in the 1700s and 1800s. 

Today, on the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, Rhiannon Giddens released a new song called “Build a House,” with the great Yo-Yo Ma accompanying her on cello. 

From Rhiannon’s remarks on social media:"This song came knocking about a week ago and I had to open the door and let it in. What can I say about what’s been happening, what has happened, and what is continuing to happen, in this country, in the world? There’s too many words and none, all at once. So I let the music speak, as usual. What a thing to mark this 155th anniversary of Juneteenth with that beautiful soul Yo-Yo Ma. Honored to have it out in the world."

Juneteenth commemorates the day in 1865, two years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and two months after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee to end the Civil War, when Union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas and informed slaves in that area that they were free and the war was over. 


Tags: Old-Time, Fiddle
Category: Featured Video

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Jul 01, 2020
The songwriter and multi-instrumentalist performs an original song live in the Martin Museum, on a 1942 Martin D-45.




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