The Carolina Chocolate Drops is an American Folk band founded in Bonne, North Carolina, in 2005. This African American folk band included three-members: Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, and Justin Robinson, then Hubby Jenkins and Leyla McCalla. The all-black band focused on bluegrass, country, and blues. These genres were originated from black folks during the 19th century. The band played instruments rooted in Africa, such as banjos, fiddles, bones, and kazoo. The trio met at a Black Banjo Gathering in Bonne, N.C in 2005, after they met Joe Thompson, who was a Carolina black fiddle player. He became a mentor to the group and allowed them to played music at his home. Joe influenced the group to create a string-band named The Carolina Chocolate Drops.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops played a particular type of folk music called Piedmont. This musical style is located in the Piedmont region in North Carolina and where a lot of black folks settled. One of the members, Rhiannon Giddens, grew up in the Piedmont area listening to folk and county music with her grandmother. This music style usually focuses on the banjo; the group mainly used the banjo in their songs since it is their primary focus. Since the music style is rare, the band helped revise the style and brought it back to the mainstream.
“We’re not here as a black band playing white string band music. You know, we play stuff in the Appalachians, we play stuff in the white community, but we really highlight the black community’s music” – Rhiannon Giddens,NPR
As an all-black string group, its leading focus is to be visible in the Black community. While most people who attended their concert were white, there were still a minority of blacks fans who were curious about their involvement with the music style. The Carolina Chocolate Drops played at black schools and programs. They also appeared in Denzel Washington’s movie The Great Debate, where they were appreciated by black people who loved their style of music. The group wanted to let the black community know that folk music was and still is a part of the African- American culture and history.
The group’s first album, ” Genuine Negro Jig,” was produced in 2010 and consisted of black folk music from the 20s and 30 styles with a twist of modern style such as hip hop. Some of their hit songs from the album included ” Cornbread and Butterbeans,” “Troubled on Your Mind,” and folk style cover of ” Hit’em Up Style.” The album led the group to received a Grammy award for the Best Traditional Folk Music in 2010. They went on to produce a second album named Leaving Eden in 2012.
“Band.” About – Carolina Chocolate Drops. Web. 30 Aug. 2020.
“Carolina Chocolate Drops: Tradition And Modern Twists.” NPR. NPR, 05 July 2010. Web. 30 Aug. 2020.
Chideya, Faral. “Carolina Chocolate Drops Keep Piedmont Sounds Alive.” NPR. NPR, 12 Feb. 2007. Web. 30 Aug. 2020.
Michel, Karen. “Chocolate Drops Revive String-Band Sound.” NPR. NPR, 28 Jan. 2007. Web. 30 Aug. 2020.
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