North Carolina native Rhiannon Giddens plays on new Beyoncé track
Why it matters: Giddens is one of North Carolina's most influential artists over the past decade, helping spread the African origins of the banjo and African American influences on folk music into the popular imagination.
- The Beyoncé collaboration will likely expand her influence even more.
Background: Giddens was born in Greensboro and raised partially in the rural Piedmont.
- She attended the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics in Durham before earning a degree in vocal studies at Oberlin College in Ohio.
- Her work, both with the Carolina Chocolate Drops and as a solo artist, has earned her multiple Grammys as well as a MacArthur "genius grant." She's worked throughout her career to draw attention to the African origins of the banjo and the ways African-American musicians shaped the country and folk genres.
- Last year, she won a Pulitzer Prize for "Omar," an opera about the enslaved African scholar Omar ibn Said that she co-produced with UNC's Carolina Performing Arts.
Driving the news: Giddens plays the banjo and viola on the new Beyoncé track, Variety reports.
- Beyoncé's next album "Act II" is set to arrive March 29 and reportedly will have more country music influences.
What she's saying: In a Facebook post, Giddens said the timing of the Sunday release took her by surprise — she secretly worked with Beyoncé on the song two years ago.
- "My only hope is that it might lead a few more intrepid folks into the exciting history of the banjo," Giddens wrote.
Zoom out: Mainstream pop stars have been diving headfirst into the country genre recently, Axios Nashville's Adam Tamburin writes.
- Lana Del Rey and Post Malone previously announced their next musical projects will come with a country angle.
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