Rhiannon Giddens Shares a Special GRAMMY Story

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This GRAMMY Sunday, Rhiannon Giddens shares the story of a previous GRAMMYs, when she was nominated for her first solo record, 2015's Tomorrow Is My Turn. Giddens "was all dolled up in gown and professional hair and makeup and feeling very, very hollow inside" from the red carpet experience, "feeling the disconnect with why I actually play and sing music." She and her longtime friend and colleague Dirk Powell grabbed their fiddle and banjo and set up outside a pizza joint to play some tunes, unnoticed except for a young boy who was selling candy bars and asked: "Hey I used to learn violin, can I see yours?" You can read her story here.

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This GRAMMYs Sunday, Rhiannon Giddens shares a special GRAMMYs story:

Congratulations to all the wonderful artists nominated for GRAMMYs, those who weren’t nominated, those who won, and those who have yet to win. I was honored to represent Nonesuch Records and Red Light Management in my categories, and delight in the fact that the music world will be chattering about some mighty fine people, including my sister in spirit Allison Russell, Twitter friend Jason Isbell, and so many others.

Since I first posted a GRAMMY win story, I thought I’d post a GRAMMY lose story today :).

Some years ago I was nominated for my first solo record Tomorrow Is My Turn, and I was there with my team and long time friend and colleague Dirk Powell. I was all dolled up in gown and professional hair and makeup and feeling very, very hollow inside. Those who know me know that while I like wearing fun fancy clothes sometimes, the whole red carpet thing drives me nuts because I hate posing for photos, especially for photographers who are waiting for the real celebrities lol. But I’m a team player! I know that industry awards are also helpful for labels, managers, and everybody who is working behind the scenes. I have always been blessed in who I work with and am grateful for all of them on my road, and so I dress up and go smile.

But this day for some reason was really hard. Not because I didn’t win, but I guess I was just feeling the disconnect with why I actually play and sing music. I was really feeling the weirdness of being essentially a banjo playing folk singer walking around in a gown and missing my function. Dirk and I had brought our instruments (just in case) and after the daytime ceremony, I was like—Dirk let’s just set up somewhere and jam!!! Dirk was there for it and so we got our fiddle and banjo, sat outside some pizza joint, and played some tunes. God it felt so good! Nobody paid us any mind, no cameras came, no articles are written about the two folks playing old time music at the GRAMMYs, but as we played we noticed this young boy who was selling candy bars wander by.

He kept passing by, looking at us play, his candy bars slowly melting in the sun, until he finally slowed down and said, "Hey I used to learn violin, can I see yours?" and Dirk passed him his fiddle, and he played a little, and then I passed him the banjo and he played a little, and it was such a beautiful moment of us and him sharing a little music and all of a sudden all was right with the world. I have thought of that sweet kid often and I wonder if he ever started playing violin again. Sometimes the GRAMMY moment is outside the convention center, next to a box of melted chocolate bars.

Enjoy the party, y'all! Everyone looks bee-yoo-ti-full. I'm sitting here with my cats, my partner and my kids and looking forward to getting out there and singing for the first time in a while.

---

Photos by David Bither. Young man's face blurred.

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Rhiannon Giddens, Dirk Powell: GRAMMYs 2016 by David Bither
  • Sunday, February 4, 2024
    Rhiannon Giddens Shares a Special GRAMMY Story

    This GRAMMYs Sunday, Rhiannon Giddens shares a special GRAMMYs story:

    Congratulations to all the wonderful artists nominated for GRAMMYs, those who weren’t nominated, those who won, and those who have yet to win. I was honored to represent Nonesuch Records and Red Light Management in my categories, and delight in the fact that the music world will be chattering about some mighty fine people, including my sister in spirit Allison Russell, Twitter friend Jason Isbell, and so many others.

    Since I first posted a GRAMMY win story, I thought I’d post a GRAMMY lose story today :).

    Some years ago I was nominated for my first solo record Tomorrow Is My Turn, and I was there with my team and long time friend and colleague Dirk Powell. I was all dolled up in gown and professional hair and makeup and feeling very, very hollow inside. Those who know me know that while I like wearing fun fancy clothes sometimes, the whole red carpet thing drives me nuts because I hate posing for photos, especially for photographers who are waiting for the real celebrities lol. But I’m a team player! I know that industry awards are also helpful for labels, managers, and everybody who is working behind the scenes. I have always been blessed in who I work with and am grateful for all of them on my road, and so I dress up and go smile.

    But this day for some reason was really hard. Not because I didn’t win, but I guess I was just feeling the disconnect with why I actually play and sing music. I was really feeling the weirdness of being essentially a banjo playing folk singer walking around in a gown and missing my function. Dirk and I had brought our instruments (just in case) and after the daytime ceremony, I was like—Dirk let’s just set up somewhere and jam!!! Dirk was there for it and so we got our fiddle and banjo, sat outside some pizza joint, and played some tunes. God it felt so good! Nobody paid us any mind, no cameras came, no articles are written about the two folks playing old time music at the GRAMMYs, but as we played we noticed this young boy who was selling candy bars wander by.

    He kept passing by, looking at us play, his candy bars slowly melting in the sun, until he finally slowed down and said, "Hey I used to learn violin, can I see yours?" and Dirk passed him his fiddle, and he played a little, and then I passed him the banjo and he played a little, and it was such a beautiful moment of us and him sharing a little music and all of a sudden all was right with the world. I have thought of that sweet kid often and I wonder if he ever started playing violin again. Sometimes the GRAMMY moment is outside the convention center, next to a box of melted chocolate bars.

    Enjoy the party, y'all! Everyone looks bee-yoo-ti-full. I'm sitting here with my cats, my partner and my kids and looking forward to getting out there and singing for the first time in a while.

    ---

    Photos by David Bither. Young man's face blurred.

    Journal Articles:Artist News

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