Rhiannon Giddens brings Americana to Funhouse Fest

When Rhiannon Giddens steps onto the Funhouse Fest stage Sunday in Williamsburg, she’ll bring with her the voices of the generations before her.

The folk singer and North Carolina native’s newest album, “Freedom Highway,” is inspired by the journey of black people in America. It covers everything from the slave narrative to civil rights to current racial issues in the country.

“I feel like, as a woman of color in 2017, with the privileges I have, I do feel a responsibility to the generations that came before me, who had much harder lives,” she said in a phone interview. “It’s my responsibility to use that privilege to highlight these pieces of American history.”

Funhouse Fest is a three-day festival organized by the Virginia Arts Festival and Williamsburg native Bruce Hornsby. Along with Giddens, other headliners for the show include Hornsby, who will perform every day, and Sheryl Crow.

Giddens grew up in Greensboro, N.C., before graduating from Ohio’s Oberlin College in 2000. She spent a number of years performing in Scottish music competitions before forming the band Carolina Chocolate Drops in 2006.

The Americana band has released seven albums and won a Grammy Award in 2011 for Best Traditional Folk Album.

As a solo artist, Giddens has recorded three full-studio albums since 2015. “Freedom Highway” was released in February of this year. A lot of her music’s inspiration comes from reading.

“I’m always doing a bit of reading and have amassed quite a lot on these topics,” Giddens said, regarding the subject matter of “Freedom Highway.” “There’s so many stories to tell.”

Giddens has appeared in the fifth season of the TV show “Nashville” as the recurring role of Hallie Jordan, a social worker and singer.

“It fell into my lap,” she said. “It’s been very, very cool. Being able to work with my own music into her character.”

Giddens will perform at 8 p.m. Sunday, the closing act of the festival. Other performers that day include Hiss Golden Messenger, The Staves and Bruce Hornsby & Sonny Emory Duo.

At a news conference in May, Hornsby said he picked artists based on what he’s been listening to the past year.

“This is about new and old friends. I call people I'm really interested in," Hornsby said in May. "I'm more interested in the complex music I've written, so this year, it reflects that. This reflects how I evolve and change."

Want to go?

What: Funhouse Fest.

When: Friday — Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Music starts at 7 p.m. Lineup includes Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers, Virginia Symphony Orchestra String Quartet, Sheryl Crow.

Saturday — Gates open at 3 p.m. Music starts at 4:30 p.m. Lineup includes Kenny Garrett, yMusic, The Staves with yMusic, Lake Street Drive and Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers (and special guests) performing the music of the Grateful Dead.

Sunday — Gates open at 3 p.m. Music starts at 4 p.m. Lineup includes Hiss Golden Messenger, The Staves, Bruce Hornsby and the Sonny Emory Duo, and Rhiannon Giddens.

Where: Multiple stages on the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg (326 Francis St., Williamsburg).

Cost: Tickets start at $29.25 for single-day admission and $96.98 for a three-day pass. They can be purchased at funhousefest.com or by calling the Virginia Arts Festival Box office at 757-282-2822.

Contact Black at joblack@dailypress.com or by phone at 757-247-4607. Follow him @j_black13.

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