Rhiannon Giddens Announces Forthcoming Album on Heels of Pulitzer Prize News
Rhiannon Giddens has recorded her first solo album in six years, and her first album of all-original material ever, “You’re the One,” the singer announced Tuesday. The album will arrive August 17 on Nonesuch.
The album announcement comes a day after Giddens was announced as being a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for music, for her opera, “Omar,” an honor she shares with co-composer Michael Abels.
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A tour is being simultaneously announced, as well, with most of the dates taking place this fall, including a September headlining stop at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Some of the highest-profile dates stretch into 2024, including shows next March and April at the Beacon in New York and the Theatre at Ace Hotel in L.A. (See the full itinerary below.)
Although “You’re the One” is Giddens’ first solo album since “Freedom Highway” in 2017, she has hardly been absent from the recording scene since then, having released albums in the interim with her personal and professional partner, Francesco Turrisi. Their most recent collaboration, “They’re Calling Me Home,” won the Grammy for best folk album in 2022.
“You’re the One” looks to lean at least a bit more in a contemporary pop/Americana direction than the recordings she has put out with Turrisi, which have skewed more toward folk and global influences.
“I hope that people just hear American music,” Giddens said in her announcement. “Blues, jazz, Cajun, country, gospel, and rock — it’s all there. I like to be where it meets organically. They’re fun songs, and I wanted them to have as much of a chance as they could to reach people who might dig them but don’t know anything about what I do. If they’re introduced to me through this record, they might go listen to other music I’ve made and make some new discoveries.”
The forthcoming record has just one featured guest, Jason Isbell, on “Yet to Be,” described as being about a Black woman and Irish man falling in love in America.
While Giddens’ album is still three months away, the singer released the title track as a single Thursday. She said in the announcement that its inspiration goes back an emotional moment she shared with her then-infant son 10 years ago. “Your life has changed forever, and you don’t know it until you’re in the middle of it and it hits you,” Giddens said. “I held his little cheek up to my face, and was just reminded, ‘Oh my God, my children — they have every bit of my heart.'”
The new album, which has a retro cover listing all 12 songs on the front, is described as “drawing from the folk music that she knows so deeply, as well as its pop descendants.” It was produced by Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Solange, Alicia Keys, Valerie June, Tank and the Bangas), with recordings that took place at Criteria Recording Studios in Miami with Turrisi, Dirk Powell, Jason Sypher and Niwel Tsumbu among the players.
Giddens’ Pulitzer came for “Omar,” a collaboration with composer Michael Abels, known for scoring “Get Out” and “Nope.” It was acclaimed in a run at the LA Opera that wrapped up in late 2022; a production will be mounted by the San Francisco Opera this fall. It tells the story of Omar Ibn Said, an enslaved Muslim man in Charleston, SC in the 19th century, based on his memoir.
In a recent interview with Variety, Giddens laughed when she was asked if she had any more operas in the planning. “Oh my Lord. No, no, no, no, no. That one is probably … that’s my lifetime opera, I think. That’s five years off my life.”
In the interview, Giddens alluded to having a new album in the bag but said she wasn’t yet ready to let the cat out of it. But “You’re the One” and “Omar” are not her only recent projects. The singer-instrumentalist was being interviewed by Variety for a 10-part limited series, “The Banjo: Music, History and Heritage With Rhiannon Giddens,” that she has on the Wondrium platform.
She also hosts a PBS series that is currently airing, “My Music With Rhiannon Giddens.” This fall, she will release her second children’s book.
Giddens’ tour dates for 2023-24:
May 11: Union Chapel, London, UK~
May 12: Saint Andrews & Blackfriars Hall at Norfolk & Norwich Festival, Norwich, UK~
May 13: Birmingham Town Hall, Birmingham, England~
May 14: Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden, UK~
May 26: Our Common Nature: An Appalachian Celebration, Knoxville, TN
May 27: Bijou Theatre, Knoxville, TN%
June 8-11: Ojai Festival, Ojai, CA~
July 6: Festival dei Due Mondi, Spoleto, Italy~
July 12: Umbria Jazz, Perugia, Italy~
July 15: Pori Jazz Festival, Pori, FI$
July 17: Wigmore Hall, London, UK$
September 13: University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA^
September 14: The Sheldon, St. Louis, MO^
September 15: Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN^
September 17: Athenaeum Center, Chicago, IL*
September 18: Michigan Theatre, Ann Arbor, MI*
September 19: St. Cecilia Music Center, Grand Rapids, MI^
September 20: Royal Conservatory, Toronto, ON^
September 22: House of Blues, Boston, MA^
September 23: University of Maine, Orono, ME^
September 24: FreshGrass MASS MoCa Festival, North Adams, MA
September 26: Keswick Theater, Philadelphia, PA^
September 27: University of Maryland, College Park, MD^
September 28: Carolina Theater, Greensboro, NC^
September 30: University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Wilmington, NC^
October 1: Modlin Center at University of Richmond, Richmond, VA+
October 2: Paramount Theatre, Charlottesville, VA*
November 17: Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, CA@
February 21, 2024: Barbican Centre, London, UK
March 16, 2024: Beacon Theatre, New York, NY
April 25, 2024: Theatre at Ace Hotel, Los Angeles, CA
~with Francesco Turrisi
$with Christian McBride & Francesco Turrisi
%with Dirk Powell & Justin Robinson
^with Adia Victoria
*with Charly Lowry
+with The Legendary Ingramettes
@Silkroad Ensemble with Rhiannon Giddens
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