Courtesy of the artist
Carolina Chocolate Drops' "Country Girl" is a 21st-century musical portrait of black America's Southern comfort.
Carolina Chocolate Drops' "Country Girl" is a 21st-century musical portrait of black America's Southern comfort. Courtesy of the artist
Carolina Chocolate Drops' "Country Girl" hints at old tensions within black America that date back to early-20th-century migration, when many Southern African-Americans moved north and west for better living opportunities. Those who left often viewed their Southern counterparts as complacent and less sophisticated.
But, just as the band challenges limited notions of black musicianship by exploring string-band music — a genre often generalized as "Appalachian music" — "Country Girl" deftly articulates the ideas behind reverse migration, in which many blacks leave, say, New York or Boston for Raleigh or Atlanta.
Fiddler Rhiannon Giddens sings fulsome verses about the joys of living below the Mason-Dixon Line by mentioning the down-home cooking, idyllic settings and strong family bonds. "I am a country girl," she sings with sweet defiance. "I've been around the world / and every place I've been / ain't quite nothing like living in the South." Meanwhile, bandmates Dom Flemons and Hubby Jenkins, who replaced founding member Justin Robinson, spruce up the sonic palette of banjo, mandolin and cello with Adam Matta's beat-boxing skills. The result is a 21st-century musical portrait of Southern comfort for many black Americans.