Since receiving the MacArthur Genius Grant in 2017, folksinger and songwriter Rhiannon Giddens has been working on a number of projects. She collaborated with her partner Francesco Turrisi on a Grammy-winning recording, wrote an opera titled Omar that debuts in Los Angeles on Oct. 22, and took over Yo-Yo Ma’s position as the artistic director of the Silk Road Ensemble, to name but a few.
Today, Giddens has announced the release of a picture book titled Build a House. Using lyrics from the song by the same title, which she wrote for Juneteenth 2020, the book features illustrations by Monica Mikai. To accompany the book’s release, Giddens has also released a recording of the song that features both Turrisi and Ma.
According to a press release, Build a House “tells the story of an enslaved family that will not be moved, and the music that sustains them.” Like much of Giddens work, it carries a melody that feels both ancient and fresh at once.
In addition to making the song available via streaming services today, Giddens will be offering live readings of the book at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (Oct. 13) and the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles (Oct. 22).
She will round out her year with two performances at Carnegie Hall—one on Oct. 15 with Turrisi and one Nov. 4 with Our Native Daughters (Giddens’s folk supergroup collaboration with Allison Russell, Leyla McCalla, and Amythyst Kiah).
“Build a House” is available HERE.