Folk and Americana artist Rhiannon Giddens announced that her second solo album entitled Freedom Highway will be released through Nonesuch Records on February 24, 2017.
The Grammy Award-winner and 2017 Grammy nominee is slated to release her follow-up to her critically praised debut album Tomorrow is My Turn.
The album, named after Staple Singers’ well-known track, will feature nine original songs written either by Giddens herself or co-written during time touring with her band, Carolina Chocolate Drops. The track also includes two civil rights-era songs, “Birmingham Sunday” and “Freedom Highway.”
While Giddens debut album consisted mainly of reinterpretations of songs from a variety of female artists, her new album represents a turn in Giddens’ writing as she puts her own voice and sound out for the world to see.
Multi-instrumentalist Dirk Powell co-produced Freedom Highway along with Giddens, and the two looked to fully embody the historic aspects of the folk/American music Giddens creates. The bulk of writing was done in Powell’s Breaux Bridge, Louisiana studio which consists of wooden rooms built prior to the Civil War. The two hoped that buy writing and recording in such a space, that “the space [would] be a voice in itself.”
In addition to the space itself, Giddens brings in a wide array of talent to assist in the recording process. Her touring band, local bayou musicians, a soulful horn section from New York as well as her own family members all join her to help shape and craft Giddens voice as she sets out on her own original songs, which creates what is described “an album that is rawer and more personal than its predecessor.”
The themes of American history, particularly in relation to Civil Rights and race relations, comes at a particularly poignant time after a hostile and often racially-charged presidential election. In regards to her title track, Giddens wrote the following the day after the election:
“We cannot let hate divide us; we cannot let ignorance diminish us; we cannot let those whose greed fills their every waking hour take our country from us….America’s strength are her people, whether they came 4,000, 400 or 40 years ago…Let’s walk down Freedom Highway together.”
In a country that feels particularly divided over issues of race and identity, Giddens album might be the calming voice we need right now.
Giddens and her band will tour the U.S. in the spring in support of the album, though dates and locations have yet to be announced.
- At the Purchaser’s Option
(Rhiannon Giddens/Joey Ryan)
- The Angels Laid Him Away
(Mississippi John Hurt)
- Better Get It Right the First Time
(Rhiannon Giddens/Dirk Powell/Justin Harrington)
- We Could Fly
(Rhiannon Giddens/Dirk Powell)
- Hey Bébé
(Rhiannon Giddens/Dirk Powell)
- Come Love Come
- The Love We Almost Had
(Rhiannon Giddens/Bhi Bhiman)
- Baby Boy (ft. Lalenja Harrington & Leyla McCalla)
(Rhiannon Giddens/Lalenja Harrington)
- Following the North Star
- Freedom Highway (ft. Bhi Bhiman)
(Roebuck “Pops” Staples)