Black Bluegrass

Carolina Chocolate Drops drum up interest in little-known genre

By Doug Rule
Published on May 3, 2012, 12:12am | Comments

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''I'm so happy we did that song, and we do it every night at shows,'' says Giddens, while noting, ''we're not a big cover band. We don't want to be known for our hip-hop covers, as a string band.'' The band's new album, Leaving Eden, doesn't include any hip-hop covers, though it does feature beatboxer Adam Matta. It also offers a song that Giddens says ''could be an anthem for the lesbian community.'' ''No Man's Mama'' is a women's empowerment tune originally performed by jazz singer Ethel Waters.

Giddens, who lives in Greensboro, N.C., studied opera at Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. She still occasionally sings with opera companies and festivals. ''I love the music [of opera],'' she says, ''it's just not something that I wanted to do all the time.''

Performing with the Drops, Giddens opened for Bob Dylan on tour last year and currently has a song on the Hunger Games soundtrack.

''We are seeing more and more African Americans and all sorts of different colors of people out there,'' says Giddens. ''We play for whoever wants to come to our shows.'' '

The Carolina Chocolate Drops perform Thursday, May 10, at 7:30 p.m. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $25. Call 703-549-7500 or visit birchmere.com.