“Rhiannon and I are both black purveyors of American roots music, and while this is not an anomaly, it is an exception within a subculture,” Harper explained. “We have unquestionably tapped into the same creative well of influence, carrying on the tradition through our own individual instincts and perspectives.”
“I’ve been hearing and hearing about Ben Harper for a long time, but had never gotten to meet him until recently at an event in LA and I was immediately struck by a kindred spirit,” Giddens added. “Didn’t have as much to do with the kind of music we play, although we share many, many commonalities as black folk playing roots music, but more to do with the spirit that we access when we play it. I felt that spirit in him right off and knew if we ever got the chance, we could make something beautiful together.”
Rhiannon Giddens is a celebrated artist who excavates the past to reveal truths about our present. A MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Giddens has also been Grammy-nominated six times. Last year she was nominated for her collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, there is no Other (2019), an album that is at once a condemnation of “othering” and a celebration of the spread of ideas, connectivity, and shared experience. In the past month she’s appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert’s #playathome series, and performed an NPR Tiny Desk from home. She recently spoke to Rolling Stone at length about “Rewriting Country Music’s Racist History,” and was also included in VICE’s recent feature on marginalized voices in bluegrass music.