It’s not an exaggeration to say that Rhiannon Giddens is a narrative archeologist. A historical thaumaturge who conjures the often willfully forgotten chronicles of American history and renders them with a rosined bow.
For Rhiannon that process of narrative excavation has led to some of her most spellbinding work. Rhiannon speaks with podcaster Colleen Phelps, of WPLN’s Classically Speaking, about the process of disinterring narratives from the annals of American history, how her collaboration with the Nashville Ballet led her to composing out of poetry, and how motherhood has deepened her relationship to her subject matter while furthering her commitment to her art. Then poet Destiny Birdsong takes the major chords of Rhiannon’s artistic journey and turns them into poetry.
Versify is a production of Nashville Public Radio and The Porch — Nashville’s nonprofit literary center. Editing for this episode came from WPLN’s Mack Linebaugh with additional editing by Anita Bugg. The episode was written, hosted, and produced by Joshua Moore. Today’s story was recorded by Carl Pederson at WPLN for Live in Studio C in January of 2019 and the poem was recorder by Joshua Moore at The Nashville Ballet.
The music is by Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi. The show is distributed by PRX