Rhiannon Giddens’ Juneteenth-inspired picture + song book tells the story of a family that won’t budge

Opera song

Rhiannon Giddens‘Great 2022 continues today with the release of his first book – To build a home – illustrated by Monica Mikai and published by Candlewick Press. The picture book was inspired by and contains the lyrics to a song Giddens wrote and recorded with Yo-Yo Ma to commemorate Juneteenth in 2020. A newly recorded version of “Build A House” was released today on Nonesuch , listen here: https://rhiannongiddens.lnk.to/buildahouse

Build A House is a moving picture book that tells the story of an enslaved family who won’t be moved, and the music that sustains them. In a star-studded preprint review, Kirkus wrote of the book, “Giddens’ powerful, sober poetry, spanning centuries of American history, is breathtaking. Readers who discover his music through this book and the online recording (included as a QR code) will always be glad they picked up this book. . . . A stunning, honest, yet age-appropriate depiction of historical injustice. Giddens will Read Book and Play This Month: A Community Outreach Book Reading at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles on October 22 and at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum on October 13.

In addition to the book release, Giddens’ downfall includes key gigs as Carnegie Hall Perspectives Artist for the ’22-23 season, including a duet performance with Francesco Turrisi on October 15 at Weill Recital Hall and with Our Native Daughters on November 4 at Stern Auditorium. This is the only performance of 2022 for Our Native Daughters, a supergroup of black female banjo players featuring Giddens with Allison Russell, Amythyst Kiah and Leyla McCalla.

His appearances continue at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on November 12 as part of the Rock My Soul festival; and Omar’s LA Opera debut on October 22. Omar was created by Giddens with Michael Abels (Get Out). It is inspired by the autobiographical writings of Omar Ibn-Said (1770-1864), a Muslim scholar forcibly taken from his native Senegal and enslaved in North and South Carolina. Omar will be performed by five other major opera companies in the United States over the next two years. Watch this CBS Sunday Morning interview and read rave reviews in the NY Times, NPR Morning Edition and WSJ.

Giddens also composed the music for Questlove’s new film, Descendents, which will be released this month. She performed with Paul Simon at the Newport Folk Festival and the GRAMMY Salute To The Songs of Paul Simon, which was taped earlier this year and will air on CBS this fall. Black Lucy & The Bard, the Nashville Ballet production composed by Giddens, recently aired on PBS’ Great Performances and was called “wonderful television” by The Wall Street Journal. Giddens was also named Artistic Director of the Silkroad Ensemble and spoke about her work with PBS Newshour, and is the Music Director of the 2023 Ojai Music Festival.