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When I first heard the minstrel banjo - I played a gourd first - I almost lost my mind. I was like, Oh, my god. And then I went to Africa, to the Gambia, and studied the akonting, which is an ancestor of the banjo, and just that connection to me was just immense.

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Submitted by RobertHaigh on September 02, 2020

Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon Giddens is known as the lead singer and banjo player in the Grammy-winning country, blues and old-time music trio Carolina Chocolate Drops. She is a native of Greensboro, North Carolina and a 2000 graduate of Oberlin Conservatory. Rhiannon Giddens (born February 21, 1977) is an American musician, songwriter and singer. She is a founding member of the country, blues and old-time music band Carolina Chocolate Drops, where she is the lead singer, fiddle player, and banjo player. Giddens is a native of Greensboro, North Carolina, an alumna of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics,[1] and a 2000 graduate of Oberlin Conservatory at Oberlin College, where she studied opera.[2] In addition to her work with the Grammy-winning[3] Chocolate Drops, Giddens has released two solo albums: Tomorrow Is My Turn (2015) and Freedom Highway (2017). Her latest album, There Is No Other (2019), is a collaboration with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi. She appears in the Smithsonian Folkways collection documenting Mike Seeger's final trip through Appalachia in 2009, Just Around The Bend: Survival and Revival in Southern Banjo Styles – Mike Seeger’s Last Documentary (2019).[4] In 2014, she participated in the T Bone Burnett-produced project titled The New Basement Tapes along with several other musicians, which set a series of recently discovered Bob Dylan lyrics to newly composed music. The resulting album, Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, was a top-40 Billboard album.

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