Rhiannon Giddens Shares 'Freedom Highway' at American Songbook and on Tour

by Sachyn Mital

2 June 2017

Rhiannon Giddens, formerly of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, brought her Freedom Highway tour to New York for a powerful show. The tour resumes next week and hits Newport Folk later this summer.
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Rhiannon Giddens 'American Songbook' Performance

13 May 2017: Alice Tully Hall — New York, NY

Rhiannon Giddens began her Freedom Highway tour at a surprising place. Sing Sing prison in New York. There, she addressed the inmates (and the NY Times reporter) and performed songs from the new album, describing the prison as “perfect for what this album is about and the sort of social consciousness and activism that surrounds this record.” The album highlights Giddens’ earthy-roots music and her original, often political lyrics (her previous solo album post-Carolina Chocolate Drops was a covers record). She doesn’t shy away from issues political, historical or contemporary, racial or social.

As Giddens tour continued, she arrived at somewhere a bit more glamorous, Lincoln Center, for the final show of the 2017 American Songbook series. She had performed in the series twice in the past few years, and this was her biggest show at Lincoln Center yet, in front of a sold-out crowd at Alice Tully Hall. Her backing band included multi-instrumentalists Dirk Powell and Hubby Jenkins, Jason Sypher on bass and Jamie Dick on drums, as well as her sister Lalenja Harrington providing back-up vocals and her nephew Justin Harrington rapping a song near the end of the powerful show. As Billboard noted, “Giddens’ vocals—which reveal her extensive operatic training—were front-and-center on such show highlights as Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman” and Patsy Cline’s “She’s Got You,” which gave the originals a run for their money; and the Mack Gordon-written “Underneath the Harlem Moon,” which Ethel Waters recorded in the 1930s. “There’s a lot of good stuff to be found,” Giddens said of the last song. “It makes all the digging worthwhile.” Photos from Giddens performance, as well as upcoming tour dates, are below.

Spanish Fly
The Love We Almost Had
At the Purchaser’s Option
Following the North Star
We Could Fly
Water Boy
Dimanche Apres-Midi (The Creole Song)
Mr. Big Stuff
Do Right Woman
Children, Go Where I Send Thee
Underneath the Harlem Moon
Fiddle Tunes
Birmingham Sunday
[encore break]
Better Get It Right the First Time
Freedom Highway
She Got You
Up Above My Head

Tour Dates:
06/08/2017 CAROLINA THEATRE                         GREENSBORO       NC
06/09/2017 SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA                   CHARLESTON       SC
06/10/2017 KCD THEATER                               LOUISVILLE           KY
06/11/2017 CHICAGO BLUES FESTIVAL                 CHICAGO             IL
06/22/2017 ROMP                                         OWENSBORO         KY    
06/23/2017 SHAFTMAN PERFORMANCE HALL         ROANOKE             VA
07/21/2017 GILA RIVER ARENA                           GLENDALE           AZ#
07/22/2017 CITIZENS BUSINESS BANK ARENA         ONTARIO             CA#
07/23/2017 VALLEY VIEW CASINO CENTER             SAN DIEGO           CA#
07/30/2017 NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL                 NEWPORT             RI
08/04/2017 NEWPORT JAZZ FESTIVAL                   NEWPORT             RI%
08/05/2017 NEWPORT JAZZ FESTIVAL                   NEWPORT             RI
08/06/2017 THE EGG                                     ALBANY               NY
08/08/2017 RAM’S HEAD ON STAGE                     ANNAPOLIS           MD
08/09/2017 NORTH CAROLINA MUSEUM OF ART       RALEIGH               NC
08/18/2017 ROCKY MOUNTAIN FOLKS FESTIVAL       LYONS                 CO

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