Somewhere at the intersection of old-time music, bluegrass, and Piedmont Blues, is the unique and amazing sound of acoustic musicians, Giri (age 14) and Uma Peters (age 12). These Indian-American siblings from Nashville, TN are award-winning multi-instrumentalists – Giri on fiddle, guitar, and mandolin, and Uma on clawhammer and gourd banjo. They have been electrifying audiences with their refreshing, soulful blend of music and songwriting. Although young in age, their musicianship and vocal harmonies showcase a level of creativity and originality well beyond their years.
This session was captured live in Nashville, TN – July, 2019 and features songs from their first album as a duo entitled Origins, released in May, 2019.
“By exploring the origins of each song, we can use the music as a guide to explore America’s history of slavery, the intermixing of cultures, and even racism. This history, and the history of these songs are important to me because ever since I started playing Old-Time/Bluegrass music I have come face-to-face with racism, concepts of “whiteness,” and the stereotypes that come along with these genres. As I learned more and more of the music, I began to see more of these stereotypes and became curious as to whether these genres have always been this way. I want people to take the time to discover the research and the history and look into it themselves. I want to keep the history alive in the music, and I never want people to forget where it came from. If you are going to play music, you should know where it comes from. It’s just like knowing where the food you eat comes from. My overall goal is to communicate that music is not something that should ever separate people. Rather, it should bring people together. As I continue my journey to attempt to find the origin of this music, I hope you will join me in doing it. I hope you enjoy these origins of American music.” -Giri Peters
(Notes from Giri on individual songs below.)
“Georgia Buck is an old-time tune that originated from around 1895. This song is known as a black banjo tune, and we first learned it from Rhiannon Giddens and Jake Blount. There is also a version from Elizabeth Cotten. We love playing this song, it’s high energy and so much fun, and have been ending our sets with it.”
“Babe, It Ain’t No Lie was written by Elizabeth Cotten, the female African American finger-picking phenomenon, when she was just 11 years old (the same age as Uma!). Elizabeth’s neighbor told Elizabeth’s mom a lie about her, and she was then punished for something she didn’t do. She wrote this song that her neighbor then heard and said ‘Oh that’s a nice song.’ Elizabeth simply said thank you and didn’t tell her that it was about her.”
“Shortnin’ Bread was a song that originated in the 1800s. It was a plantation song about slaves. The original lyrics were blatantly racist, and they were recorded by John Avery Lomax. Since then the lyrics have been changed, but it’s important to know the history especially since this song today is portrayed as a happy dance tune.”
This Beehive Field Recording was sponsored by Peluso Microphone Lab and produced to benefit The Rainey Day Fund —RaineyDayFund.org whose mission is to provide assistance to artists of color, artists with disabilities, artists within the LGBTQ+ community, and others who add to the rich fabric of roots music.