Grammy-Winning Carolina Chocolate Drops

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The Carolina Chocolate Drops are a Grammy-winning three-piece string band--one of only two all-black string bands recorded in the U.S.

carolina_chocolate_drops_band.jpgThe Drops (originally Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, and Justin Robinson) are unique in that they all trade instruments including the fiddle, banjo, guitar, jugs and drums.

The band reached a pinnacle of publicity in 2010, winning the Grammy Award for their album Genuine Negro Jig. The Drops have performed at numerous festivals across the country and U.K., including multiple trips to the Grand Ole Opry.

Robinson left the band in 2011, making way for Adam Matta (beatbox), Hubby Jenkins (multi-instrumentalist) and Leyla McCalla (cello) to join the band.

Flemons said on the band's website of the new lineup, "There's a new diversity that comes from the new ensemble. My thought process of how I put together songs for the Carolina Chocolate Drops now is more like working with a jazz group. I could make it work in any sort of way."

2012 has found the Drops gaining acclaim from major publications. Stephen D. Winnick of the Huffington Post wrote, "From the wildest of rural traditions to the most urbane blues, they provide a taste of many of the styles that made the American music of the pre-rock era so rich and strange."

The group was featured in a June 2012 piece in USA Today where Giddens talked about the unique folk foundation of their music.

"'The music itself is irresistible, and then history pulled me in even more. It was a one-two punch. I had studied opera and burned out, I went through a few different styles like Celtic, but this music captured me in a way that others kinds haven't," Giddens said in the piece by Korina Lopez.

Indeed, their latest release, Leaving Eden, made its way to No. 1 on the U.S. Bluegrass charts, and No. 6 in Folk. The album even crossed over enough to gain entry into the top 125 of total U.S. 2012 releases.

The album was produced by Nashville producing stalwart Buddy Miller who has worked with artists like Robert Plant and Emmylou Harris.

The Drops' five albums saunter deep in American roots music--perhaps a tribute to, or because of, the group's Carolina roots. The original three members met at the first Black Banjo gathering in 2005 in Boone, North Carolina.

The band has been on acclaimed indie label Nonesuch since their breakout year in 2010.

The group is touring the southeast for most of 2012, after finishing up a European tour.