Posts Tagged With: Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon Giddens walks the line, to a MacArthur “Genius Grant”

“Woman Walk the Line: How the Women in Country Music Changed Our Lives,” our latest offering from the American Music Series, is a book I’m proud to have helped bring to light. Overseen by the great writer/editor Holly Gleason (who did a fantastic job with matching up writers and subjects), it’s a wonderful collection of lovely and amazing essays about some of the most important artists in the Americana universe. And one of its best essays is about rising superstar Rhiannon Giddensthe superhumanly talented singer, dancer, actress and activist. Penned by Caroline Randall Williams, the essay is titled “Calling Back: A Gift Past the Songs” and it’s a pitch-perfect evocation of Giddens’ sound and spirit:

It almost seems as though Giddens takes everything good, anything she likes, from the American musical milieu — the bent blue notes, the grassy strings, the lament in the back of the throat that transcends borders of time or space. She takes these things and renders them, through her, one new American country sound.

I’ve had the privilege of watching Giddens conjure that magic for a dozen years now, going back to when her Carolina Chocolate Drops were a local band in my neck of the woods taking their first tentative steps into the world. She has since taken the world by storm, winning a Grammy Award and the Steve Martin Prize — and today, the incredible honor of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant.” Check the story on that here; and for an illuminating and poetic portrayal of Giddens’ music, art and life, get “Woman Walk the Line.”

 

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Next up: “Woman Walk the Line”

WWtLNow that “Chrissie Hynde: A Musical Biography” is out in the world, attention here at the American Music Series turns to the next book up. And this will be an especially good one, “Woman Walk the Line: How the Women in Country Music Changed Our Lives.” It’s our first multi-author anthology in the series, with essays about everyone from Loretta Lynn to Rhiannon Giddens, and it’s a fantastic collection, thanks to the Herculean efforts of editor Holly Gleason. It may say, “Edited by Holly Gleason” on the cover, but “Lovingly sherpheded by” would be closer to the mark because Holly has done a spectacular job pulling this together.

One early fan is Americana icon (and noted author) Rodney Crowell — former husband of contributor Rosanne Cash, son-in-law of her essay subject June Carter Cash and longtime Emmylou Harris collaborator. He writes:

“‘Woman Walk the Line’ is tender, tough, raw, informative and emotionally intelligent, carefully framing twenty-seven of country music’s most evocative and enduring artists. It delivers truth and beauty on every page. I bow in earnest.”

Look for “Woman Walk the Line” in September as our fall release, and the 12th American Music Series book overall.

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Grammy love for the Wheel, but not Ryan Adams

Grammy2016In the media blitz that accompanied the release of DRA 1989 back in September, there was some hyperbolic speculation about Grammy Awards — that the album might get Ryan Adams a few nominations, maybe even for album of the year to set up a Grammy showdown against Taylor Swift’s original 1989. But that turned out to be wishful thinking.

Grammy nominations are out today and Swift checks in with seven total, including the categories of record, song and (yes) album of the year. So she certainly did her part — but Ryan, alas, did not make the cut. He didn’t pick up any nominations this go-round, which means he’ll have to wait at least another year to win his first Grammy (Ryan has been nominated seven times since 2001 but has yet to win one).

AATWKingEven if Ryan wasn’t nominated this year, however, a handful of others from North Carolina were, most notably Fayetteville-raised hip-hop star J. Cole and Carolina Chocolate Drops co-founder Rhiannon Giddens. You can find a recap of North Carolina-connected nominations here.

On a personal level, meanwhile, there is a bit of Grammy news in my book-related world. My “Comin’ Right at Ya” co-writer/subject/star Ray Benson’s Asleep at the Wheel is up for best recording package with his group’s third and latest Bob Wills tribute album Still The King: Celebrating The Music Of Bob Wills And His Texas Playboys, alongside albums by Florence + the Machine, Snoop Dogg, Alagoas and the late Elvis Presley.

The Grammys will be presented on Feb. 15 in Los Angeles. If the Wheel wins, this would be the group’s first since 2000 (which was in this same category — for another Wills tribute, 1999’s Ride With Bob) and 10th overall. To read about the star-crossed night when Asleep at the Wheel won that very first Grammy way back in 1979, click the EXCERPTS link here.


 

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