9/12/2016

Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass Awarded to Rhiannon Giddens

RHIANNON GIDDENS WINS STEVE MARTIN PRIZE
FOR EXCELLENCE IN BANJO AND BLUEGRASS

The Seventh Annual Prize Recognizes an Individual or Group for Outstanding Accomplishmentsin the Field of Five-String Banjo or Bluegrass Music


"One of the most promising voices
in American roots music" - Rolling Stone
"Ms. Giddens's glorious voice ... merges an opera singer's detail and a deep connection to Southern roots. She can summon the power of a field holler, Celtic quavers, girlish innocence, bluesy sensuality, gospel exaltation or the pain of slavery. She can sing velvety, long-breathed phrases or rasp and yip like a singer from the backwoods long ago."
 New York Times
LOS ANGELES, CA, SEPTEMBER 12, 2016 -  Critically acclaimed singer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter Rhiannon Giddens is the recipient of the seventh annual Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. Described by T Bone Burnett as one of the "most profound musicians active today," Giddens is the co-founder of the GRAMMY Award-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, in which she sang and played banjo and fiddle. That group has long investigated and promoted the foundational role African-American performers and songwriters have played in folk-music history, while making recordings that are vital, contemporary, and exuberant.
"Rhiannon has made a rare contribution to American music," said Steve Martin. "She - along with the Carolina Chocolate Drops - has resurrected and revitalized an important part of banjo history."

Giddens began gaining recognition as a solo artist when she stole the show at the T Bone Burnett-produced Another Day, Another Time concert at New York City's Town Hall in 2013. The elegant bearing, prodigious voice, and fierce spirit that brought the audience to its feet that night is also abundantly evident on Giddens' critically acclaimed solo debut album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, which masterfully blends American musical genres like gospel, jazz, blues, and country, showcasing her extraordinary emotional range and dazzling vocal prowess. Giddens is currently working on her follow up album and will have a recurring role in the fifth season of the hit TV show Nashville.  

The Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass provides the winner with an unrestricted cash prize of fifty-thousand dollars, as well as a bronze sculpture created specifically for the prize by noted artist Eric Fischl.  Created to bring recognition to an individual or group for outstanding accomplishment in the field of five-string banjo or bluegrass music, the prize highlights the extraordinary musicianship of these artists and bluegrass music worldwide. The winner is determined by a board consisting of J.D Crowe, Pete Wernick, Tony Trischka, Anne Stringfield, Alison Brown, Neil V. Rosenberg, Béla Fleck, and Steve Martin.

The award is given to a person or group who has given the board a fresh appreciation of this music, either through artistry, composition, innovation or preservation, and is deserving of a wider audience. Recipients must be a professional or semi-professional and should currently be active in their careers.

The award is funded personally by the Steve Martin Charitable Foundation. Its first winner was Giddens' Nonesuch Records labelmate, Noam Pikelny of Punch Brothers.

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