LIVE: Our Native Daughters at The Egg 7/26/2019

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The struggle of the women of the African Diaspora to survive has been documented in the written word, oral tradition, and song. Our Native Daughters is a project that interprets that struggle by drawing from historical sources and expressing it in contemporary folk tradition.

Our Native Daughters was founded by Rhiannon Giddens, one of the original Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African American band that revived the string band tradition and has gone on to many other projects involving many styles of music.

She enlisted the 3 other women in the project, all of whom have varying musical backgrounds.

Leyla McCalla, also a former member of the Chocolate drops, is a classically trained cellist of Haitian descent.

Allison Russell, Canadian born multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter, is primarily known for her bands Birds of Chicago and Po’ Girl.

Amythyst Kiah, alt-country and blues singer-songwriter, rounds out the talent on the stage.

This multitude of talents and backgrounds led to a rich blending of harmony, vocals, songwriting and instrumentation.

“Quasheba, Quasheba” is Allison Russell’s tribute to her distant ancestor who came to this continent in the hold of slave ship, eventually working in the sugar plantations in Grenada, surviving rape and beatings yet still enduring to raise offspring who are alive today.

“Mama’s Crying Long” is a powerful piece. Written by Rhiannon Gidden, the song was inspired by slave narratives describing the killing of an abusive slave overseer. The killer is revealed by a child chanting a childlike song describing blood on the slave’s dress and her eventual lynching as punishment. Written from a child’s point of view, this song is absolutely devastating in its tragedy and violence to the listener with just simple words.

Amythyst Kiah’s “Black Myself” is a defiant song about racial discrimination.

However, all was not dark, tragic and disturbing.  “Lavi Difisil,” by Leyla McCalla, is a song celebrating Haitian troubadour Althiery Dorval and the banjo tradition in Haiti.

Polly Ann’s “Hammer” celebrated steel driving man John Henry’s wife, who wields his hammer after he falls ill, telling the story of her ability to keep living and thriving.

The concert celebrated the triumph of the human spirit over adversity and Man’s inhumanity to man. A truly powerful message in these trying times, the concert reminded listeners of the power of music and story to uplift.

As all these wonderful musicians have very busy solo careers, and seeing them together was special. If they come around and perform together, make sure you don’t miss their performances.

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