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Songs of Our Native Daughters

Songs of Our Native Daughters

by Our Native Daughters Our Native Daughters
Songs of Our Native Daughters

Songs of Our Native Daughters

by Our Native Daughters Our Native Daughters


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The Smithsonian Folkways-issued debut album from Carolina Chocolate Drops frontwoman Rhiannon Giddens, former Carolina Chocolate Drops cellist Leyla McCalla, multi-instrumentalist Allison Russell (Po' Girl, Birds of Chicago), and alt-country/blues singer/songwriter Amythyst Kiah, Songs of Our Native Daughters is a bold, brutal, and often beautiful dissertation on racism, hope, misogyny, agency, and slavery told from the perspective of four of modern roots music's most talented women, who also happen to be black. That all four artists are adept banjo players is no fluke, as that distinctly American instrument has been at the forefront of the country's musical evolution since the 1800s, though almost always via the hands of a white male. Looking to the past for inspiration, from Creole culture and minstrelsy to the abolitionist and suffrage movements, the quartet have constructed a set of songs that are grounded in centuries of suffering, yet resolute in their humanity. Steely and soulful opener "Black Myself," led by Kiah, is built off a line from Sid Hemphill's Alan Lomax recording of "John Henry" ("I don't like no red-black woman/black myself, black myself"). That mythic steel driver is invoked by Kiah again on the galloping bluegrass romp "Polly Ann's Hammer," which sees John's wife, who was every bit his equal when it came to swinging a maul, getting to tell her side of the story. Giddens turns an old minstrel instrumental song on its head with "Better Git Yer Learnin'," which eschews the lewdness and derogatory imagery of the style for an honest post-emancipation primer ("the white folks they will write the show/if you can't read you'll never know"). Most potent of all is Giddens' "Barbados," a wordless lament book ended by a pair of poems: the first, an anti-slavery piece by English poet William Cowper, and the second, a response by co-producer and frequent Giddens collaborator Dirk Powell that shows how little has changed. As harrowing as the material can be, it's the music that carries the weight. Echoes of mbaqanga and highlife find their way into "Moon Meets Sun" and "Music and Joy," both of which find solace in the simple pleasures of song and dance, and Russell's robust, gospel-tinged "You're Not Alone" uses motherhood as a metaphor for resilience, resistance, and acceptance, bringing to a close this powerful, personal, and much-needed retelling of American history.

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Product Details

Release Date: 02/22/2019
Label: Smithsonian Folkways
UPC: 0093074023228
catalogNumber: 740232
Rank: 17766


  1. Black Myself
  2. Moon Meets the Sun
  3. Barbados
  4. Quasheba, Quasheba
  5. I Knew I Could Fly
  6. Polly Ann's Hammer
  7. Mama's Cryin' Long
  8. Slave Driver
  9. Better Git Yer Learnin'
  10. Lavi Difisil
  11. Blood and Bones
  12. Music and Joy
  13. You're Not Alone

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Our Native Daughters   Primary Artist
Dirk Powell   Acoustic Guitar,Banjo,Bass,Fiddle,Mandolin,Percussion,Piano,Accordion,Electric Guitar,Keyboards,Guitar (Electric Baritone)
Jason "Number One" Sypher   Bass,Percussion,Bowed Bass
Allison Russell   Banjo,Clarinet,Percussion,Vocals,Background Vocals,5-string Banjo
Jamie Dick   Percussion,Drums
Rhiannon Giddens   Banjo,Fiddle,Percussion,Vocals,Background Vocals,Hand Clapping
Leyla McCalla   Guitar,Cello,Vocals,Background Vocals,Tenor Banjo
Amythyst Kiah   Guitar,Percussion,Vocals,5-string Banjo

Technical Credits

Bob Marley   Composer
Dirk Powell   Composer,Poetry,Producer,Engineer,Liner Notes,Annotation
Tom Briggs   Composer
Huib Schippers   Executive Producer
William Cowper   Poetry
Allison Russell   Composer,Annotation
Rhiannon Giddens   Composer,Producer,Annotation
Leyla McCalla   Composer,Annotation
Amythyst Kiah   Composer,Annotation
John Smith   Executive Producer

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