Rhiannon Giddens - Freedom Highway

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Magnolia Record Club’s Record of The Month for February 2017 was Rhiannon Giddens’ album, Freedom Highway, which was officially released during that same month. The title of the album, Freedom Highway, is a 1965 civil rights protest song.

"Know thy history. Let it horrify you; let it inspire you. Let it show you how the future can look, for nothing in this world has not come around before. These songs are based on slave narratives from the 1800s, African American experiences of the last century, and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s and headlines from streets of Ferguson and Baltimore today. Voices demanding to be heard, to impart the hard-earned wisdom of a tangled, difficult, complicated history; we just try to open the door and let them through." — Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon Giddens, is the front woman of the Grammy-winning band, Carolina Chocolate Drops, but has also released two solo albums.

Our subscribers received a personalized note from our curator Drew Holcomb along with the vinyl:

Note from Drew

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. 




  1. At the Purchaser's Option
  2. The Angels Laid Him Away
  3. Julie
  4. Birmingham Sunday
  5. Better Get It Right the First Time
  6. We Could Fly
  7. Hey Bébe
  8. Come Love Come
  9. The Love We Almost Had
  10. Baby Boy
  11. Following the North Star
  12. Freedom Highway
Drew Holcomb