Rhiannon Giddens '00 to Appear on Oberlin Stage Left

December 7, 2020
Erich Burnett
Francesco Turrisi and Rhiannon Giddens
Photo credit: courtesy Rhiannon Giddens

December 10 performance with Francesco Turrisi also features Giddens in conversation.

Rhiannon Giddens, a 2000 Oberlin Conservatory alumna who has forged a remarkable—and remarkably wide-ranging—career in music, returns to her Oberlin roots for a Thursday, December 10, appearance on Oberlin Stage Left.

She will perform with collaborator Francesco Turrisi, with whom she created her most recent recording. Their set will span traditional Irish and Scottish tunes, as well as blues, bluegrass, gospel, and more. It will be preceded by a conversation between Giddens and music theory professor Jan Miyake that touches on the performer’s career and her longstanding commitment to social justice issues.

The interview and performance begin at 7:30 p.m.

A former vocal student at Oberlin, Giddens is cofounder of the Grammy Award-winning country-blues ensemble Carolina Chocolate Drops, for which she is the lead singer, violinist, and banjo player. A native of North Carolina, she has also released a pair of acclaimed solo albums, Tomorrow Is My Turn and Freedom Highway, and has collaborated on numerous well-received projects including Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, a 2014 recording of previously unreleased music by Bob Dylan she made with Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, and others.

Her most recent recording, there is no Other (2019), is a collaboration with Turrisi, an Italian jazz musician.

In 2017, Giddens was named a MacArthur Fellow, recognition she earned for her efforts in reclaiming African American contributions to folk music and other styles, and identifying new connections between modern music and sounds of the past.

In summer 2020, Giddens became artistic director of Silkroad, the multicultural arts organization founded by Yo-Yo Ma.

"She is gifted with a voice of rare beauty that deeply touches those who hear her, and she has the imagination to create musical ideas that are fresh and unerringly honest,” voice professor Marlene Rosen, Giddens’ mentor at Oberlin, said in 2017. “She is a highly intelligent woman, but more than that, a person of substance and integrity, respected and loved by her peers."

Oberlin Stage Left is Oberlin Conservatory’s virtual programming platform developed for the era of COVID-19. Launched in April 2020, it has showcased performances featuring Oberlin faculty, students, alumni, and more, and hosted conversations on a broad array of topics pertaining to music-making.

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