Singer and multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens first performed at SMF in 2008 with the Grammy-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops. Five years later she stole the show at a 2013 NYC concert produced by T-Bone Burnett with a knock-out interpretation of Odetta’s Work Song, prompting The New York Times to write, with the fervor of a spiritual, the yips of a folk holler, and the sultry insinuation of the blues, Giddens brought the star-studded audience to its feet. As her star continues to rise, she never forgets her musical journey that began in the Piedmont region of North Carolina, an area with a rich legacy of old-time music, both black and white. With her early repertoire informed by the tutelage of early African-American fiddler Joe Thompson, Rhiannon Giddens has combined her formal vocal training from the Oberlin Conservatory with folk music roots to become a unique and formidable talent.
Joining Giddens on this bill is Mokoomba, an acclaimed Afro-pop ensemble that performs with an eminently danceable groove. Straight out of Zimbabwe, the award-winning band delivers an electrifying blend of Afro-fusion with tantalizing traditional Tonga rhythms. Formed in 2001, Mokoomba won several competitions, bringing them to international attention with a debut European tour in 2009. They toured Europe again in 2010 and 2011, performing at several well-known festivals, and a 2012 showcase at WOMEX prompted one journalist in attendance to write: I’ve seen the future of Afro-sound and it is called Mokoomba!
“Mokoomba is quite simply the most impressive band Zimbabwe has produced in recent memory.”