A Review by Richard Fair, Presenter of Norwich Today and No Static
The Norfolk and Norwich Festival opened on Friday night with Calling Me Home, a haunting song about death, written and performed by Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi.
“It’s the one thing for sure we all know will happen to us” Rhiannon explained, in a way that somehow made us all feel at ease.
At times during the concert, if you closed your eyes, you’d think there were a number of musicians on stage supporting them. But no. It was just the two of them, with either a banjo, accordion, piano or a bodhran-like drum. The effect was immersive and moving.
Rhiannon studied opera but found her way into folk, bluegrass, jazz, soul and country music via dance. What this journey gave us, on a cool May evening in Norwich, was music to warm our bones. It’s often said that a singer can make a song their own. Rhiannon Giddens made their songs ours.
A highlight for me was her rendition of I Shall Not Be Moved, an African-American spiritual and protest song she learned at the feet of legendary fiddle player Joe Thompson. Joe became her mentor in his later years.
Rhiannon is a descendant of African-Americans and Native American tribes and her music and stories reflect this heritage. Francesco, her partner both on and off stage, is an Italian jazz pianist and that adds to the mix of influences. It all works.
Rhiannon closed by promising they would return to Norwich. As she put it “After all, what’s not to like about a town with more than one yarn shop?”
The Norfolk & Norwich Festival runs from 12-28 May 2023. For more information visit www.nnfestival.org.uk
More Posts for Show: Norwich Today