Rhiannon Giddens: Shared Roots

Photos by Ebru Yildiz If there is any place on Earth you might expect to dine with the Grammy-winning banjo virtuoso, cultural anthropologist and MacArthur Fellow Rhiannon Giddens, this bland Panera on the ground level of a Nashville office building probably isn’t it. That’s where we are, though, at 9:30 a.m. in late March, as men and women rush in and out with computer bags and giant coffees en route to work while Giddens sits in a booth, poking at a disappointing egg sandwich. This egg sandwich, missing its promised avocado and looking about as appetizing as leftover airplane food, does not know it is on the plate of one of the most important musical minds currently walking this planet. This egg sandwich is for shame.  At least Giddens is enjoying her tea, sitting at a booth in a corset, blazer and a long black skirt with her banjo stashed at her feet. In a few hours, she’s due to appear at the press conference for Ken Burns’ new docu-series on country music (called, simply, Country Music), and then it’s a long day of rehearsals before an event celebrating the project tonight at the nearby Ryman Auditorium. Giddens appears in…

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