Rhiannon Giddens of Our Native Daughters is changing the narrative of American folk music

Giddens set up a collaborative of black female roots musicians to record an album called Songs of Our Native Daughters, which looks at neglected female voices and stories in folk.
Rhiannon Giddens, Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell and Amythyst Kiah of Our Native Daughters. (Smithsonian Folkways)

Originally published on April 4, 2019

When it comes to folk and banjo music, Rhiannon Giddens has been a huge influence. Since breaking out with her first group the Carolina Chocolate Drops, she's challenged assumptions of what folk music should be, who should be playing it and what stories it should tell. 

Giddens has won a Grammy and a McArthur Genius Grant. Her latest project is an album called Songs of Our Native Daughters, which aims to reclaim the stories that folk music often tends to neglect.

Our Native Daughters is a collaboration with three other roots musicians who are also women of colour: Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell and Amythyst Kiah.

In a conversation with q's Tom Power, Giddens said that the quartet's album is "asking people to think twice about their assumptions about what American history is and who gets to say it."

Giddens joined Power live from Limerick, Ireland to talk about how folk and roots music is starting to change in terms of representation and the stories it tells.

Read Gidden's speech for the International Bluegrass Music Association here.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full interview.

Produced by ​Ben Edwards

Miss an episode of CBC q? Download our podcast.



To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.