Late Night OTB – Rhiannon Giddens
An artist discovered via discussion in the comments section.
On last night’s installment, regular commenter de stijl observed that, “People other than white guys with guitars are perfectly capable of making transformative music” and pointed out that, for example, the late Prince had a good song back in the 1980s. While I’m in agreement with both points, my instinct in the revived Late Night OTB has been to focus on artists that I’ve discovered recently in the hopes that maybe readers would likewise share in the discovery.
Still, it’s true that my selections have been overwhelmingly white, male, and guitar-centric. Only one segment featured a song primarily associated with a black artist and that was to showcase a version I much preferred from white dudes with guitars. Lionel Ritchie, a black man who plays piano, was featured in another installment but he, too, wasn’t the focus.
OzarkHillbilly, quite reasonably, suggests that, if the goal is to expand the diversity of my musical tastes, one might “try offering him something you think he might like given his obvious tastes in music?” And he does so in the form of two videos from the Carolina Chocolate Drops. While I’d never heard of them, their 2010 album, Genuine Negro Jig, won Best Traditional Folk Album at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards.
“Hit ‘Em Up Style.”
And “Country Girl.”
Alas, while I like the instrumentals and admire the vocal talent, I don’t love the rhythm or tempo of either.
But this put me on the right path. Here’s Rhiannon Giddens performing “Wayfaring Stranger.”
You probably recognize her: she’s the lead vocalist in the Carolina Chocolate Drops videos above. I much, much prefer her on this.
Here she is performing ”Louisiana Man” on Austin City Limits:
Here she is on “Julie“:
And here she is with the legendary Tom Jones on “St. James Infirmary Blues.”
Of these, “Wayfaring Stranger” is easily my favorite.