Tue 28 Jul 2020
In April 2017 Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell came to PBS for an intimate Studio 5 Live session on Southern Style.  Regular host Jan Dale was away at the time, with the program being handled by bluegrass historian and author John Boothroyd.  Now in 2020 we’re delighted to re-broadcast this session, this time with Jan Dale behind the studio console. 


Rhiannon Giddens is best known for her work with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, but has subsequently released a number of acclaimed solo albums.  In 2017 Giddens toured Australia in support of her album Freedom Highway.  The album, Giddens’ second as a solo artist, addresses issues of social justice and re-visits themes of civil rights activism and protest.  While at PBS Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell featured many of the tracks from Freedom Highway, but also explored other material drawn from the southern states of the US, often exploring narratives of oppression and slavery. 


In just over 27 compelling minutes Giddens and Powell run through a collection of works that variously feature clawhammer banjo, acoustic guitar, accordion, piano and Giddens’ signature fiddle playing.  Above all of that sits Rhiannon Giddens’ grounded and deeply rich vocals, with Powell occasionally coming forward to take the lead.  For those of us here in the building at the time it was a session that was both immensely powerful and richly beautiful. 


In July 2020, on the back of the global Black Lives Matter movement, it seems there’s no better time to re-visit this recording - a stunning document that encapsulates the very best of the American folk and Americana tradition in a setting that is intimate, personal and uniquely PBS. 


Tune in to Southern Style on July 28 as we rewind back to Rhiannon Giddens and Dirk Powell's Studio 5 Live session. Studio 5 Live is proudly supported by Mountain Goat.