In honor of Black History Month, we invite you to find out more about musician Rhiannon Giddens, featured in our recent MUSIC episode. Giddens fearlessly reinvents the legacy of Minstrel Music through songs that tell true stories of injustice and oppression during slavery. She has turned this instrument on its head: once used to perpetuate racist stereotypes about African Americans, the minstrel banjo becomes a revolutionary instrument in Giddens’ skilled hands. As one of the first musical instruments developed in America, the banjo holds an important place in the development of our national music traditions. While reflecting the pervasive racial injustice of 19th Century America, minstrelsy was a populist translation of European opera and became known as one of the United States’ first national artforms. A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Giddens pursues a new future for African American song traditions, redefining this historical instrument.
Find out more about Rhiannon Giddens music in her segment from MUSIC, or watch a bonus video from our video shorts: