American roots music sensation Rhiannon Giddens is set to release Freedom Highway in February 2017. This will be her follow-up to her critically acclaimed solo debut album, Tomorrow Is My Turn.
Freedom Highway includes nine original songs written or co-written by Giddens; a traditional tune; and two civil rights-era songs, “Birmingham Sunday” and the Staple Singers’ “Freedom Highway.”
Giddens co-produced the album along with multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell in his Louisiana studio, with the majority of the recording made in wooden rooms built prior to the Civil War, over an eight-day period.
The music of Aretha Franklin will be celebrated with a special benefit concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City on March 6. The event is produced by Michael Dorf.
Aretha Franklin is an award-winning vocalist. The initial program includes house band Antibalas, Melissa Etheridge, Kenny Loggins, Ann Wilson, Todd Rundgren, Sarah Dash, Glen Hansard, Rhiannon Giddens, Taj Mahal, Living Colour, Allen Stone, and Bettye LaVette, with many more artists to be revealed soon.
The Music of Aretha Franklin event will be Dorf’s 14th annual tribute concert held at Carnegie Hall, with 100% of the net proceeds given to music education organizations for underprivileged youth. Michael Dorf has announced that over 1.3 million net dollars has been raised by the series to date.
On the road to eternal rest, perhaps one of the greatest challenges that a person can face is how to raise a child. The answer is complex and layered but it surely includes listening to folk songs. Folk songs cultivate empathy. Rhiannon Giddens plays folk songs that will enthrall any contemporary soul. The Mermaid Avenue albums are collections of songs that do the same.
Folk songs perform magic. For one, they allow us to feel along with others in a grassroots sort of way – they delight not because of heavy marketing’s affect but because of genuine sentiment. Like all things that delight, they are not taught in school and are associated with the “wild” or the “reckless” to be consumed in humorous “doses.” It should not be the case. Listening to a great folk song is a communion with years of sentiment, interpretation, and expression. As a child learns of his or her world, it would be wise for that child to feel the world, the weight of it, by listening to folk songs. He or she will feel the soul of the times that came before his or her own and that will have shaped the times that he or she will live.
Rhiannon Giddens is mixed raced folk singer waist deep in the business of dwelling in the South, the same dwelling in the South that has often been horrific to African Americans. The public lynchings and other torture many African Americans suffered still hurt. The South has also been a great region for the production of American culture. The South has hosted folk courage beyond belief and its folk songs are products of this. Giddens plays with folk songs: sings them beautifully and always while committed to the grandeur that a song may have. By doing so, she sings us magnificence.
The Mermaid Avenue albums by Billy Bragg and Wilco reveal the twists and turns of American history. They sing Woody Guthrie’s collected songs along to well played instrumentation and never singing these songs in a way that will not thrill themselves.
It’s always wise to dance and sing along to songs that have gone from one singer to the other, as if a song that collected mounds of sincere nods about delight and detail. It’s even wise to do it with one’s child. Then, you will have raised a beautiful, comprehending, soul.
Headline photo: Rhiannon Giddens – Photo by Dan Winters
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