First Watch: Rhiannon Gidden, 'Black Is The Color' The Carolina Chocolate Drops singer and multi-instrumentalist transforms an old folk song into something intriguing, infectious and downright sexy.
YouTube

All Songs TV

Rhiannon Giddens Pieces Together History In Her New Video

Some paths to the past are well-traveled. Textbooks and school lectures draw straight lines between cause and effect, between history and history repeating. Other paths are visible but lesser-known, uncovered by alternate narratives and specific research. And others still are completely invisible, so overgrown with time and lack of attention that they disappear either forever or until stumbled upon. Folk musician and unofficial keeper of stories Rhiannon Giddens aims for the second tactic and lands on the third in the video to her swinging cover of the Appalachian ballad, "Black is the Color."

In her work with old-time and bluegrass outfit Carolina Chocolate Drops, and as a solo musician performing traditional gospel, soul and folk music, Giddens has made clear her commitment to unearthing American music's roots. Her approach is both respectful and innovative, and is on full display here. Sung with real joy and desire, backed by ebullient percussion and harmonica, this version adds a layer of earthy physicality missing from most previous incarnations. The video's narrative matches the song's revelry, as Giddens pores through trinkets and photographs depicting histories real and imagined. About the shoot, she told NPR:

We all had such a great time filming this video and were so honored to set our story—an old love story rediscovered—on the campus of Fisk University, a Nashville HBCU [historically black college or university] that dates back to 1866. The Fisk Jubilee Singers were among the first African-American performance groups to tour America and Europe, and they single-handedly kept their school from closing its doors with the money they raised with their singing.

Pairing artifact with imagination is critical to the study of history, particularly when reconstructing images of a past that were willfully ignored. In Giddens' curious and reverent care, an old song and an old story become intriguing, infectious, and downright sexy.

[+] read more[-] less

More From All Songs TV

Members of the Detroit Lions take a knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to the start of the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Ford Field on September 24, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. Rey Del Rio/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

In New Video, Prophets Of Rage Gives NFL's #TakeAKnee Protest Historical Context

One week after Eminem's anti-Trump tirade, Chuck D's supergroup releases visuals for the "Strength In Numbers" anthem, meant to boost support for the NFL's #TakeAKnee protests.

A still from Shamir's "Straight Boy" video. YouTube hide caption

toggle caption YouTube

Shamir Reckons With Queer Erasure In 'Straight Boy'

Shamir's new single sounds raw and intimate — like you're having a one-on-one conversation with him about "whitewashing and queer baiting in media."

Saffiyah Khan (left) confronts English Defence League protester Ian Crossland during a demonstration in the city of Birmingham, following the Westminster terrorist attack. Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images

A Courageous Smile Inspires Solidarity And A New Billy Bragg Song

When Saria Zafar became a target for wearing a hijab, Saffiyah Khan stepped in, with a disarming smile. It also inspired a new song and video from singer Billy Bragg.

Back To Top