In a new video, Rhiannon Giddens has spoken about her role as guest curator at this years Cambridge Folk Festival (2-5 August), her musical influences, artist collaboration at festivals as well as her line-up choices.
The guest curation role was introduced for the first time last year when Jon Boden took the auspicious lead selecting Lau, Martin Simpson, Kate in the Kettle, Chris T-T and the Furrow Collective. The chosen artists perform across the weekend and the curator is also there for the duration, something Rhiannon was very pleased about as her festival stays are usually very fleeting.
For her festival picks she intentionally chose a number of like-minded individuals, her drive was to represent folk music in a non-commercial way and not just pick some white guy with a guitar. In the video, she touches on the commercialisation of folk music from the 1960s which largely ignored the folk music that had been going on for many years (such as the Georgia Sea Island Singers) and she also talks about how the music became racially segregated.
Rhiannon’s Cambridge Folk Festival Picks
Amythyst Kiah: Rhiannon discovered Amythyst from a recording made at Cambridge Folk Festival. She champions her honesty in her music delivery and she has a unique voice as you can hear in our video playlist above. She describes herself as a Southern Gothic, alt-country blues singer/songwriter based out of Johnson City, TN – while she honours tradition she has a unique contemporary sound that makes her addition to the list a great choice.
Kaia Kater: Canadian-born claw-hammer banjo player Kaia has featured on FRUK before, in fact, her 2016 album Nine Pin was a Featured Album of the Month (reviewed here) – a stunning album of understated clarity and insight, effortlessly bridging the past and the present to create a blueprint for the future. The album took as its inspiration a number of themes, including the Black Lives Matter movement, Kaia’s own experiences as a woman of color living in North America, as well as drawing on her own love of Canadian folk music and Appalachian music.
Birds of Chicago: A husband and wife duo whose new album Love in Wartime drops on 4th may via Signature Sounds. Built around the chemistry and fire between Allison Russell and JT Nero, and their rock-steady band, BOC tours hard. Russell and Nero played with different bands in the mid-aughts (Po’ Girl and JT and the Clouds) before finding their way to each other. Nero, who writes the bulk of the songs, found himself a transcendent vocal muse in Russell (a powerful writer herself), and the band honed its chops on the road, playing 200 shows a year between 2013-17. All that shaping and sharpening, over so many miles, led them back to Chicago’s Electrical Audio in January of 2017, to begin recording Love in Wartime. “Any act of love is an act of bravery, “says Russell. We want to give people some good news. And we want them to be able to dance when they hear it.”
Peggy Seeger: Peggy will need no introduction, she’s been a mentor of Rhiannon’s for a long time now and she has a lot of respect for her uncompromising stance. She makes the point that Peggy has never been afraid to say what she thinks and what she does think and say is very well thought through. She adds that we need this sort of person now more than ever. Read our interview with her here.
Find out more here: https://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/folk-festival