Concert preview: Rhiannon Giddens at the Southern Theatre

Rick Allen

As with a handful of other like-minded African-American singers and songwriters, Rhiannon Giddens seemingly embraces the entirety of the American experience more so than any one genre. Piedmont blues, Billie Holliday's maudlin crooning, Stax singles barely piercing the static on handheld plastic radios — all of it is Giddens' to explore. Thankfully she is strong enough vocally to handle such a weight, and smart enough to know her feet are in the present and not in some imagined past.

For example, the recording of 2015 albumTomorrow Is My Turnincluded a Nashville Rolodex of veteran talent, including Dylan sidemen and at least one Funk Brother. Instead of playing it conservatively and letting the pros handle things, the Oberlin grad led the ad hoc band in viewing original clips on YouTube, and going from there. If the song aged well, it might make it into that day's recording. If there is a fresh take to be had, maybe they could try that. This is how an artist takes genres that are fossils to so many and breathes new life into them, an effort few of Giddens' peers seem to understand.(Don't miss it)

Southern Theatre

8 p.m. Saturday, May 19

21 E. Main St., Downtown

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