Rhiannon Giddens to perform in A+E concert for racial equality, release new EP
Rhiannon Giddens

North Carolina-born songstress Rhiannon Giddens has moved onto the world stage with her breakout debut solo album Tomorrow is My Turn earning critical and popular acclaim. Her newest EP, Factory Girl, will be released on Black Friday Record Store Day, Nov. 27, 2015, via Nonesuch. She’ll also be participating in "Shining a Light: A Concert for Progress on Race in America" presented by A+E Networks and iHeartRadio on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015.

The concert is part of a new A+E initiative to promote reconciliation and change in communities across the country. In addition to Giddens, an all-star lineup is on board including the Zac Brown Band, Eric Church, Jamie Foxx, Tori Kelly, John Legend, Miguel, P!nk, Jill Scott, Ed Sheeran, Sia, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, and Pharrell Williams. The artists will perform many once-in-a-lifetime duets that are sure to make this a landmark event.

The two-hour special will be recorded live at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Nov. 18. On Nov. 20, the concert will air across all the A+E Networks, including A&E, HISTORY, Lifetime, H2, LMN, and FYI, as well as the top 150 iHeartRadio music stations across the country. Tickets to the live concert are available now.

The concert will be followed by "Shining a Light: Conversations on Race in America." The documentary special will feature artists, including Pharrell Williams and John Legend, interacting with residents in communities, including Charleston and Ferguson, where racial inequality and violence have aroused national attention. The documentary will be seeking solutions to foster greater understanding and eliminate bias.

This is not Rhiannon’s first contribution to a project aimed at social and racial equality. In 2013, she contributed an a cappella track “We Rise” to the album We Are Not For Sale: Songs of Protest, produced by the NC Music Love Army, a group of activist North Carolina musicians organized by Raleigh musician Jon Lindsay and Caitlin Cary of Whiskeytown. The album, which featured songs from a number of prominent Carolina musicians, rallied support for the NC NAACP’s Moral Monday movement of weekly protests at the state legislature. Also in 2013, Rhiannon’s group, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, contributed the track “Day of Liberty” to the 2-CD project, Divided & United: The Songs of the Civil War.

Giddens’ upcoming EP, Factory Girl, has a social message as well. The title track, based on a traditional Irish song, features additional lyrics written by Giddens, referencing the 2013 factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1,100 workers. The EP emerged from the same recording sessions that produced Tomorrow Is My Turn, under the direction of another Nonesuch artist, T Bone Burnett. Giddens also contributed to the track "Moonshiner's Daughter," co-written with her sister Lalenja Harrington and Burnett, based on family lore about her rum-running great-grandfather. Other songs on the 5-track EP include a traditional Gaelic mouth music tune, and traditional songs from the playbook of Giddens’ musical heroes Ethel Waters and Sister Rosetta Tharp.

Recording sessions for both the album and EP were held in Los Angeles and Nashville. Burnett assembled a talented group of musicians for the project. Those heard on the EP include Nonesuch artists Gabe Witcher (fiddle) and Paul Kowert (double bass) of Punch Brothers; Jack Ashford, percussionist for Motown's Funk Brothers; Jay Bellerose (drums); guitarist Colin Linden (guitar); Dennis Crouch (bass) veteran of many Nashville sessions; and multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins and beat-boxer Adam Matta, members of Giddens' own Carolina Chocolate Drops. The vinyl Factory Girl EP will be released on Nov. 27 for Black Friday Record Store Day. The digital version will be available Dec. 11, 2015.

Founded in 2005, the Durham, NC based Carolina Chocolate Drops became familiar faces at festivals and gigs throughout the region playing songs based on African American traditional musical styles based in the Piedmont region of the Carolinas. A force in reviving the popularity of old-time string band music, the group received a Grammy for its 2010 release Genuine Negro Jig in the category of Best Traditional Folk Album. Giddens is a founding member of the group, and continues to tour with her bandmates, Malcolm Parson (cello), and Hubby Jenkins and Rowan Corbett, who both, like Giddens herself, play many instruments, including banjo, fiddle, mandolin and bones. Also touring with Giddens are drummer Jamie Dick and bassist Jason Sypher.

Giddens and her band will tour the U.S. through the end of the year, then will head for Europe. The international tour dates already announced include a high-profile string of Transatlantic Sessions performances in Scotland, England and Ireland, as part of an all-star band of international artists from both sides of the North Atlantic. The Transatlantic Sessions are produced by BBC Scotland and directed by American dobro star Jerry Douglas and Scottish fiddler Aly Bain. In March, Rhiannon will travel to Australia for the Bluesfest at Byron Bay, before returning to the U.S. for additional dates.

Rhiannon Giddens tour dates for 2015-2016 include:

2015

Nov. 6 — Silver Creek Event Center in New Buffalo, MI with Birds of Chicago
Nov. 8 — Théâtre Petit Champlain in Quebec City, QC with Birds of Chicago
Nov. 9 — La Tulipe in Montreal, QC with Birds of Chicago
Nov. 10 — Infinity Music Hall in Hartford, CT with Birds of Chicago
Nov. 12 — Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, NY with Birds of Chicago
Nov. 13 — Towne Crier Cafe in Beacon, NY
Nov. 14 — The Opera House at Boothbay Harbor, ME
Nov. 15 — The Flying Monkey in Plymouth, NH
Nov. 19 — Tilles Center for the Performing Arts in Brookeville, NY
Nov. 20 — The Grand Opera House in Wilmington, DE
Nov. 24 — Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette, LA with Dirk Powell

2016

Jan. 20 — Handelsbeurs in Gent, Belgium
Jan. 21 — Kulturkirche in Cologne, Germany
Jan. 22 — Columbia Theatre in Berlin, Germany
Jan. 23 — North Sea Jazz Club in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Jan. 25 — New Morning in Paris, France
Jan. 27 — Old Fruit Market in Glasgow, Scotland
Jan. 29 & 31 — Transatlantic Sessions at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, Scotland
Feb. 1 —Transatlantic Sessions at the Royal Festival Hall in London, England
Feb. 2 — Transatlantic Sessions at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, England
Feb. 3 — Transatlantic Sessions at Sage Gateshead in Gateshead, England
Feb. 4 — Transatlantic Sessions at Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, England
Feb. 5 — Transatlantic Sessions at Millennium in Derry, Northern Ireland

For updates on the touring schedule, visit the Rhiannon Giddens website.