Rhiannon Giddens to Deliver Oberlin Commencement Address, Receive Honorary Doctorate

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Congratulations to Rhiannon Giddens, who will deliver the keynote address at Oberlin College and Conservatory’s Class of 2024 Commencement ceremony on Monday, May 27, which will be livestreamed. Giddens, who studied opera at the Conservatory and graduated in 2000, will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music degree. "A consummate musician, equally noteworthy for her accomplishments as a performer, composer, scholar, lyricist, and more, Rhiannon Giddens stands as one of the most important creative and artistic voices of our time," Dean of the Conservatory William Quillen says. 

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Congratulations to Rhiannon Giddens, who will deliver the keynote address at Oberlin College and Conservatory’s Class of 2024 Commencement ceremony on Monday, May 27. Giddens, who studied opera at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and graduated from there in 2000, will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music degree during the ceremony. The address will be livestreamed as part of Oberlin's Commencement weekend events.

“A consummate musician, equally noteworthy for her accomplishments as a performer, composer, scholar, lyricist, and more, Rhiannon Giddens stands as one of the most important creative and artistic voices of our time,” Dean of the Conservatory William Quillen says.

“Throughout her work, Giddens has brought to light previously overlooked or suppressed voices and histories,” Quillen continues. “In so doing, she has helped recast conventional narratives and defamiliarize the familiar, single-handedly transforming musical life not only in our country, but globally. It is a tremendous honor to welcome her back to her alma mater, award her an honorary doctorate, and have her address our community.”

Rhiannon Giddens’ latest album, You’re the One, released on Nonesuch Records last year, is her third solo studio album and her first of all original songs. This collection of twelve tunes written over the course of her career bursts with life-affirming energy, drawing from the folk music she knows so deeply and its pop descendants. The album was produced by Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Solange, Alicia Keys, Valerie June) and recorded with an ensemble including Giddens' closest musical collaborators from the past decade, a string section, and Miami Horns. The lone featured guest on the album is Jason Isbell on “Yet to Be.” The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Americana Album and Best American Roots Performance, for the song "You Louisiana Man."

As Pitchfork once said, “few artists are so fearless and so ravenous in their exploration”—a journey that has led to NPR naming her one of its 25 Most Influential Women Musicians of the 21st Century and to American Songwriter calling her “one of the most important musical minds currently walking the planet.” Giddens’ previous album They're Calling Me Home won the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album in 2022. In the past few years, Giddens has also debuted her opera, Omar, written with film composer Michael Abels (Get Out, Nope), which won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize in Music; had her PBS’ Great Performances debut with the Nashville Ballet in Black Lucy and the Bard, which she composed and performed the music for with Francesco Turrisi; and released two children's book inspired by her songs, Build a House and We Could Fly. She is also the creative director of the Silkroad Ensemble, was last year’s musical director of the Ojai Festival, created a ten-part video series about the banjo on Wondrium, and hosted a new series on PBS last summer called My Music. Giddens has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Elvis Costello and Daniel Lanois, appeared on the Kennedy Center Awards for Joan Baez, and has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, CBS Saturday Morning, and the Grammy Salute to Paul Simon on CBS.

For more information on Oberlin's Commencement events and Rhiannon Giddens address, visit oberlin.edu.

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Rhiannon Giddens: Oberlin Commencement 2024
  • Friday, April 12, 2024
    Rhiannon Giddens to Deliver Oberlin Commencement Address, Receive Honorary Doctorate
    Ebru Yildiz

    Congratulations to Rhiannon Giddens, who will deliver the keynote address at Oberlin College and Conservatory’s Class of 2024 Commencement ceremony on Monday, May 27. Giddens, who studied opera at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and graduated from there in 2000, will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music degree during the ceremony. The address will be livestreamed as part of Oberlin's Commencement weekend events.

    “A consummate musician, equally noteworthy for her accomplishments as a performer, composer, scholar, lyricist, and more, Rhiannon Giddens stands as one of the most important creative and artistic voices of our time,” Dean of the Conservatory William Quillen says.

    “Throughout her work, Giddens has brought to light previously overlooked or suppressed voices and histories,” Quillen continues. “In so doing, she has helped recast conventional narratives and defamiliarize the familiar, single-handedly transforming musical life not only in our country, but globally. It is a tremendous honor to welcome her back to her alma mater, award her an honorary doctorate, and have her address our community.”

    Rhiannon Giddens’ latest album, You’re the One, released on Nonesuch Records last year, is her third solo studio album and her first of all original songs. This collection of twelve tunes written over the course of her career bursts with life-affirming energy, drawing from the folk music she knows so deeply and its pop descendants. The album was produced by Jack Splash (Kendrick Lamar, Solange, Alicia Keys, Valerie June) and recorded with an ensemble including Giddens' closest musical collaborators from the past decade, a string section, and Miami Horns. The lone featured guest on the album is Jason Isbell on “Yet to Be.” The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Americana Album and Best American Roots Performance, for the song "You Louisiana Man."

    As Pitchfork once said, “few artists are so fearless and so ravenous in their exploration”—a journey that has led to NPR naming her one of its 25 Most Influential Women Musicians of the 21st Century and to American Songwriter calling her “one of the most important musical minds currently walking the planet.” Giddens’ previous album They're Calling Me Home won the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album in 2022. In the past few years, Giddens has also debuted her opera, Omar, written with film composer Michael Abels (Get Out, Nope), which won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize in Music; had her PBS’ Great Performances debut with the Nashville Ballet in Black Lucy and the Bard, which she composed and performed the music for with Francesco Turrisi; and released two children's book inspired by her songs, Build a House and We Could Fly. She is also the creative director of the Silkroad Ensemble, was last year’s musical director of the Ojai Festival, created a ten-part video series about the banjo on Wondrium, and hosted a new series on PBS last summer called My Music. Giddens has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Elvis Costello and Daniel Lanois, appeared on the Kennedy Center Awards for Joan Baez, and has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, CBS Saturday Morning, and the Grammy Salute to Paul Simon on CBS.

    For more information on Oberlin's Commencement events and Rhiannon Giddens address, visit oberlin.edu.

    Journal Articles:Artist News

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