Carolina Chocolate Drops

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Carolina Chocolate Drops
Carolinachocolatedrops.jpg
The Carolina Chocolate Drops performing in Birmingham, Alabama, in June 2008.
Background information
Origin Durham, North Carolina, USA
Genres Old-time, Americana, skiffle
Years active 2005–present
Labels Nonesuch/Elektra Records
Dixiefrog
Music Maker
Website Carolinachocolatedrops.com
Members Rhiannon Giddens
Hubby Jenkins
Rowan Corbett
Malcolm Parson
Past members Justin Robinson
Adam Matta
Dom Flemons
Leyla McCalla

The Carolina Chocolate Drops are an old-time string band from Durham, North Carolina. Their 2010 album, Genuine Negro Jig, won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards,[1] and was number 9 in FRoots magazine's top 10 albums of 2010.[2]

Career[edit]

Formed in November 2005, following the members' attendance at the first Black Banjo Gathering, held in Boone, North Carolina, in April 2005, the group grew out of the success of Sankofa Strings, an ensemble that featured Dom Flemons on bones, jug, guitar, and four-string banjo, Rhiannon Giddens on banjo and fiddle and Sule Greg Wilson on bodhran, brushes, tambourine, banjo and ukulele, with Justin Robinson as an occasional guest artist. All shared vocals. The purpose of Sankofa Strings was to present a gamut of African American musics: country and classic blues, early jazz and "hot music", string band numbers, African and Caribbean songs, and spoken word pieces.[3] The Chocolate Drops' original three members: Giddens, Flemons, and Robinson, were all in their twenties when the group formed after Flemons' move from Phoenix (where he and Wilson lived), to North Carolina, home of Giddens and Robinson. Wilson, nearly a generation older than the Drops, was occasionally featured with CCD into 2010, including contributions to the band's recordings, Dona Got a Ramblin' Mind, CCD with Joe Thompson, Heritage (with songs culled from Sankofa Strings' CD, Colored Aristocracy) and nearly half of Genuine Negro Jig. All of the musicians sing and trade instruments including banjo, fiddle, guitar, harmonica, snare drum, bones, jug, and kazoo. The group learned much of their repertoire, which is based on the traditional music of the Piedmont region of North and South Carolina,[4] from the eminent African American old-time fiddler Joe Thompson, although they also perform old-time versions of some modern songs such as Blu Cantrell's R&B hit "Hit 'em Up Style (Oops!)."

The Carolina Chocolate Drops have released five CDs and one EP and have opened for Taj Mahal and, in 2011, Bob Dylan.[5] They have performed on Mountain Stage,[6] MerleFest, and at the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention. Additionally they have performed on A Prairie Home Companion, Fresh Air, and BBC Radio in early 2010, and at the 2010 Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee,[7] and at the 2011 Romp,[8] in Owensboro, Kentucky. On 17 January 2012 they appeared live on BBC Radio 3.[9] They have performed on the Grand Ole Opry several times. They have also performed on the UK's BBC Television program, Later... with Jools Holland.[10]

On February 7, 2011, the band announced that beatboxer Adam Matta and multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins would be joining the band, while Justin Robinson was departing.[11] In early 2012, they announced that the New Orleans based cellist Leyla McCalla was joining the band on its next tour.[12] CCD contributed a track, "Political World," to the Bob Dylan tribute compilation, Chimes of Freedom (album) released in January 2012. Their next album, Leaving Eden, followed soon afterward in February 2012. In an interview, Jenkins said,

"Leaving Eden was an interesting album because [fiddler] Justin [Robinson] had just left the group, and they had already decided to record with Buddy Miller, and had even picked the recording dates. It was an interesting time to be coming in, because they were ready to do different things with the new members. So it was a trial-by-fire period."[13]

Later in 2012, the Drops were nominated for numerous awards by the Chicago Black Theater Alliance for their work in Keep a Song in Your Soul: The Roots of Black Vaudeville.[14] Staged by the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, written by Lalenja Harrington (Rhiannon Giddens' sister) and Sule Greg Wilson, and featuring veteran hoofer Reggio MacLaughlin, and ragtime pianist and MacArthur Fellow Reginald R. Robinson, the program examined the hopes and realities, music, and dances of the Great Migration.[15]

Also in 2012, the Drops contributed a song, "Daughter's Lament", to The Hunger Games soundtrack.

In 2013, they were nominated for a Blues Music Award for 'Acoustic Artist'.[16]

Also in 2013, the Drops contributed a song, "Day of Liberty", to the two-CD album 'Divided & United.

On November 12, 2013, the Chocolate Drops announced that Dom Flemons would be leaving to embark on his own solo career,[17] and introduced two new members: cellist Malcolm Parson and multi-instrumentalist Rowan Corbett.[18]

Members[edit]

Carolina Chocolate Drops at Lake Placid, New York. Left to right: Leyla McCalla, Dom Flemons, Rhiannon Giddens, Hubby Jenkins
Current
  • Rhiannon Giddens: 5-string banjo, fiddle, kazoo
  • Hubby Jenkins: guitar, mandolin, 5-string banjo, bones
  • Rowan Corbett: guitar, bones, snare drum, cajon, djembe
  • Malcolm Parson: Cello
Previous
  • Dom Flemons: 4-string banjo, guitar, jug, harmonica, kazoo, snare drum, bones, quills
  • Adam Matta: Beatbox, tambourine
  • Leyla McCalla: Cello
  • Justin Robinson: Fiddle

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions
US US Grass US Folk US Heat
Dona Got a Ramblin' Mind
  • Release date: September 12, 2006
  • Label: Music Maker
The Great Debaters Soundtrack
(with Alvin Youngblood Hart, Sharon Jones and Teenie Hodges)
  • Release date: December 11, 2007
  • Label: Atlantic
Heritage
  • Release date: February 18, 2008
  • Label: Dixiefrog
Carolina Chocolate Drops & Joe Thompson
(recorded live at MerleFest, April 25, 2008)
  • Release date: May 26, 2009
  • Label: Music Maker
Genuine Negro Jig
  • Release date: February 16, 2010
  • Label: Nonesuch
150 1 2 2
Carolina Chocolate Drops/Luminescent Orchestrii EP
  • Release date: January 25, 2011
  • Label: Nonesuch
3 11 32
Leaving Eden
  • Release date: February 24, 2012
  • Label: Nonesuch
123 1 6 2
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Music videos[edit]

Year Video Director
2012 "Country Girl"[19] Thomas Ciaburri

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Grammy Awards 2011: Winners and nominees for 53rd Grammy Awards". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-09-03. 
  2. ^ "fRoots Albums of 2010". www.frootsmag.com. Retrieved 2017-09-03. 
  3. ^ "Carolina Chocolate Drops - Digging back, driving forward". No Depression. 2008-04-30. Retrieved 2017-09-03. 
  4. ^ "Carolina Chocolate Drops: African-American String Band". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 2008-06-03. Retrieved 2017-05-27. 
  5. ^ "Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts | Appalachian State University | Boone, North Carolina". Pas.appstate.edu. Retrieved 2017-05-27. 
  6. ^ "Carolina Chocolate Drops On Mountain Stage". Npr.org. Retrieved 2017-05-27. 
  7. ^ "Bonnaroo - Artists". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 2010-05-31. Retrieved 2017-05-27. 
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-05-02. Retrieved 2006-11-30. 
  9. ^ Carolina Chocolate Drops (2012-01-17), Carolina Chocolate Drops Live at BBC Radio 3 "In Tune" on 2012-01-17, retrieved 2017-09-03 
  10. ^ "Carolina Chocolate Drops Perform on "Later ... with Jools Holland," Tour California - Nonesuch Records". Nonesuch Records Official Website. Retrieved 2017-09-03. 
  11. ^ "Justin Robinson to Leave Carolina Chocolate Drops; New Lineup Emerges". No Depression. 2011-02-03. Retrieved 2017-09-03. 
  12. ^ Lawrence, Jordan. "Only one original member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops remains, but the group's mission spreads". Indy Week. Retrieved 2017-09-03. 
  13. ^ Palmer, Brian (24 June 2014). "Crash Course: New Carolina Chocolate Drops lineup gets a baptism by fire". Good Times (newspaper). Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  14. ^ "Rhiannon Giddens will bring Carolina Chocolate Drops to Goshen Oct. 13 | Goshen College". News & Events. 2015-09-30. Retrieved 2017-09-03. 
  15. ^ 4544 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago Ravenswood IL 60625; 41.96428;-87.68590; 773-728-6000; Oldtownschool.org; Reviews), (based on 10 User. "Keep a Song in Your Soul". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2017-09-03. 
  16. ^ "Blues Music Awards Nominees - 2013 - 34th Blues Music Awards". Blues.org. Retrieved 2013-03-20. 
  17. ^ "Dom Flemons Holds On To Those Old-Time Roots". NPR.org. Retrieved 2017-09-03. 
  18. ^ "Carolina Chocolate Drops' Fan Bridge Newsletter". Fanbridge.com. Retrieved 2013-11-12. 
  19. ^ "CMT : Videos : Carolina Chocolate Drops : Country Girl". Country Music Television. Retrieved May 8, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Videographic documentation[edit]