Carolina Chocolate Drops breathed new life into old-time music with the 2010 album Genuine Negro Jig, which put a contemporary spin on Southern string tools from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. That collection went on to win a Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album.
"I really didn't hear old-time music until I got into the contra dance community," says Rhiannon Giddens, singer and founding member of Carolina Chocolate Drops. "I just fell in love with the banjos, played claw-hammer style. I'd never really heard a whole lot of that, and that was it. I was completely hooked."
Giddens was trained in opera at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music — an unlikely start for her current career, but one she says has come in handy.
"The breathing that you'll learn, being able to sing through colds, being able to hold notes, that really does come from training," she says. "I'm really happy about that."
Here, Giddens and fellow band member Dom Flemons speak with NPR's Scott Simon about the group's new album, Leaving Eden.