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Giddens, Johnson receive new honor

Wednesday, August 7, 2019 – Rhiannon Giddens and the late American folk museum Frank Johnson will be honored with the inaugural Legacy of Americana Award.

The award is the creation of the Americana Music Association and the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM).

The museum honors the accomplishments of the many music genres created, influenced and inspired by African Americans.

The awards will be given during the 18th annual Americana Honors & Awards on Sept. 11 at the Ryman Auditorium.

The award honors an artist, writer, producer or educator who has either made a lasting impression through music or inspired art to recognize the legacy of Americana music traditions.

Replicas of the awards will be showcased at the museum, which is scheduled to open in early 2020 in downtown Nashville.

A MacArthur "Genius" Grant recipient, Giddens has shared this dedication throughout her career both with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and solo.

Johnson was a traveling fiddle musician and brass band leader of the most well-known group in his home state of North Carolina during the 19th century. He did in the late 1800s.

"African American artists play pivotal roles in the tapestry of Americana music," said H. Beecher Hicks III, CEO and President of NMAAM. "Through the Legacy of Americana Award and our new partnership with the Association, we hope to shine a light on forgotten artists like Frank Johnson, whose stories may have been lost to history, and on innovators like Rhiannon Giddens, who is pushing Americana and American music forward by exploring the past."

"We are honored to partner with the National Museum of African American Music and present the first Legacy of Americana Award to Rhiannon Giddens and Frank Johnson," said Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association. "Without a legacy, art would not outlive its creator. These two exemplary artists embody the spirit of this award. Furthermore, it is imperative to continue celebrating those who have made lasting impressions or have inspired art that recognizes the legacy of Americana music traditions, and this honor is a rightful step in the direction of preserving that history."

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CD reviews

Freedom Highay CD review - Freedom Highay
Rhiannon Gidden's "Freedom Highway" takes an expansive look at the Black experience in America. "Better Get It Right the First Time" utilizes a gospel-y call and response format to tell the tragic story of a Black life that mattered. However, Giddens goes all the way back to slavery days for the lyrics to "At the Purchaser's Option." In between, "Birmingham Sunday" hearkens back to the Civil Rights movement and that relatively recent fight for freedom. »»»
Factory Girl CD review - Factory Girl
As a follow up of sorts to her superb solo debut, "Tomorrow Is My Turn," "Factory Girl," a five song vinyl EP released for Record Store Day, doesn't exactly expand any parameters, but does showcase Rhiannon Giddens' remarkable dexterity as both an artist and interpreter of traditional melodies. Like an earlier work, 2009's "All the Pretty Horses" (recorded with Roger Gold and Mara Shea), it finds her covering a series of mostly obscure folk tunes, but »»»
Tomorrow is My Turn CD review - Tomorrow is My Turn
Rhiannon Giddens is best known for her role in Carolina Chocolate Drops, and the album "Tomorrow Is My Turn" gives the soulful singer ample opportunity to stretch out on a wide range of cover songs. Produced by T Bone Burnett, a man that knows his way around Americana music, this album is a wonderful showcase for Giddens' talent. To state the obvious, Giddens has a flexible singing voice. She shows this off by going from the soulful "Last Kind Words" to the thumping »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: The Lil Smokies provide the perfect antidote – On a night when the world to be falling further apart thanks to coronavirus (this would be the night the NBA postponed the season), there stood The Lil Smokies to at least in some small measure save the day. The quintet is part of a generation of musicians with bluegrass as the basis, but not totally the sum of the music either.... »»»
Concert Review: White makes the case for himself, no matter how dark the music – John Paul White opined with a glint in his eyes that his songs were not of the uplifting variety. In fact, they were downright dark. How else to explain "The Long Way" with the line "long way home back to you." Or "James," a song inspired by his grandfather who suffered from dementia. But lest you think that the Alabama... »»»
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