Rhiannon Giddens – Julie (Bluegrass/Blues Ballad On Slavery)

This lady is multi-talented. She can play. She can write. She can sing. It’s slightly more unusual to see a black person playing bluegrass. There’s no real reason why that should be the case other than that particular genre is descended from Irish and Scots music as carried there by colonials, and few of them were anything other than milk bottle white (or lobster red dependent on the climate). Yet the music is full of life and belongs to whoever wants it.

The oppressed black population of the USA created musical forms such as the blues and jazz, substantial genres in their own right. Black people therefore gravitated towards those forms of musical expression more readily. But in the same way that white people have embraced the beauty of both the blues and jazz, so too have some black musicians grabbed hold of bluegrass and country and made it their own. The genre is all the better for it.

So here is one of the most renowned performers of bluegrass, black or otherwise, as she performs an original piece about the horrors of slavery. It’s a cross between the blues and bluegrass and is well worth the listen. The ballad’s lyrics have a powerful impact as does Rhiannon’s voice and demeanor. Impressive, very impressive.

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