She's A Country Girl All Right: Rhiannon Giddens's Powerful Reclamation of Country Culture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Classically trained vocalist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and 2017 MacArthur "Genius" Fellow Rhiannon Giddens has in recent years enjoyed increased visibility in the contemporary country music world. In 2016, she was a featured singer on Eric Church's top-ten country hit, "Kill a Word," and she won the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass that same year. Giddens also had a recurring role as social worker Hanna Lee "Hallie" Jordan on the long-running musical drama Nashville in 2017 and 2018. While Giddens now enjoys a certain degree of acceptance in the country music world, she has not always felt included in the various largely white, contemporary American roots scenes. As such, she continues to speak out to audiences and the press about the erasure of African Americans from histories of string music, bluegrass, country, and other styles and forms of American roots music. Using Giddens's 2017 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) keynote, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops' music video for the song "Country Girl" from 2012's Leaving Eden, I demonstrate that Giddens effectively reclaims American old-time string music and country culture as black, subverting historically inaccurate racialized notions of country music authenticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-161
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Popular Music Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Performance
  • Popular music
  • Race and ethnic studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music


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