Six or seven years ago Ellie and went to see Grace Potter at the Ryman. We had great seats, about 8 rows from the stage. We knew Grace's performance would be a big, bold rock-n-roll show, but we weren’t ready for the opener: The Carolina Chocolate Drops, a Grammy-winning folk trio. Rhiannon Giddens was one of the key creative forces in that band, and has since left to start her own solo work. Her new album Freedom Highway is a chronicle of American history through the eyes of a black woman, spanning the slave narratives of the 1800’s all the way up to today. These are interesting times we live in and I find that music is one place to find truth and dignity, to hear the stories of other people and let those stories change the way you see the world.
The songs were recorded in deep south Louisiana in wooden rooms that pre-date the Civil War. The walls have stories, as they say, and Rhiannon lets the stories into her songwriting. This album is a genre-defying act of unity and solidarity, saying to us that while we are all very different, we are also all very similar. We all have a story to tell. There is as much Patsy Cline as there is Nina Simone in her writing and production. I think this album will go down as a very important one, and I have been moved by it already. I hope you will too.