Carolina Chocolate Drops
|Carolina Chocolate Drops|
The Carolina Chocolate Drops performing in Birmingham, Alabama, in June 2008.
|Origin||Durham, North Carolina, USA|
|Past members||Justin Robinson
The Carolina Chocolate Drops is 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, and was number 9 in FRoots magazine's top 10 albums of 2010.
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. 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, 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. They have performed on Mountain Stage, 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, and at the 2011 Romp, in Owensboro, Kentucky. On Tuesday 17 January 2012 they appeared live on BBC Radio 3. They have performed on the Grand Ole Opry several times. They have also performed on the world-renowned "Later with Jools Holland".
On February 7, 2011, the band announced that beatboxer Adam Matta and multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins would be joining the band, while Justin Robinson would be departing. In early 2012, they announced New Orleans based cellist Leyla McCalla would be joining the band on its current tour.
Their next album, Leaving Eden, was released 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."
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. 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.
Also in 2012, the Drops contributed a song, "Daughter's Lament", to The Hunger Games soundtrack.
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, and introduced two new members: cellist Malcolm Parson and multi-instrumentalist Rowan Corbett.
- 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
- Dom Flemons: 4-string banjo, guitar, jug, harmonica, kazoo, snare drum, bones, quills
- Adam Matta: Beatbox, tambourine
- Leyla McCalla: Cello
- Justin Robinson: Fiddle
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|US||US Grass||US Folk||US Heat|
|Dona Got a Ramblin' Mind||
|The Great Debaters Soundtrack
(with Alvin Youngblood Hart, Sharon Jones and Teenie Hodges)
|Carolina Chocolate Drops & Joe Thompson
(recorded live at MerleFest, April 25, 2008)
|Genuine Negro Jig||
|Carolina Chocolate Drops/Luminescent Orchestrii EP||
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|2012||"Country Girl"||Thomas Ciaburri|
- Carolina Chocolate Drops at AllMusic
- Palmer, Brian (24 June 2014). "Crash Course: New Carolina Chocolate Drops lineup gets a baptism by fire". Good Times (newspaper). Retrieved 3 July 2014.
- "Blues Music Awards Nominees - 2013 - 34th Blues Music Awards". Blues.org. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
- "Carolina Chocolate Drops' Fan Bridge Newsletter". fanbridge.com. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
- "CMT : Videos : Carolina Chocolate Drops : Country Girl". Country Music Television. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
- Carolina Chocolate Drops official site
- Carolina Chocolate Drops MySpace page
- Dom Flemons Papers, Southern Folklife Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Allmusic discography
- No Depression Town and Country Featured Artist
- Chocolate Drops Revive String-Band Sound, by Karen Michel, Weekend Edition Sunday, January 28, 2007
- Carolina Chocolate Drops Keep Piedmont Sounds Alive, from News & Notes, February 12, 2007
- Carolina Chocolate Drops On Mountain Stage, January 6, 2009