Rhiannon Giddens Reveals First Picture Book Cover For ‘Building A House’


Rhiannon Giddens has revealed the cover of her first picture book, To build a home, ahead of its October 11, 2022 publication on Candlewick Press. You can pre-order the book from Parnassus (with signed bookplates while supplies last), Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound and Bookshop.

Written as a song to commemorate the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, To build a home is illustrated by painter Monica Mikai, and tells the story of a people who would not be moved and the music that supported them. Steeped in sadness and joy, resilience and resolve, turmoil and transcendence, this dramatic debut offers a proud take on history and a vital message for readers of all ages: honor your heritage, speak your truth and let your voice rise, even or perhaps especially when your heart is at its heaviest.

“I released this song on Juneteenth in 2020 with the great Yo-Yo Ma,” says Giddens. “We made a socially distant recording (very… there was an ocean between us!) and released it on social media and that was it. A few days later someone said that the lyrics would make a great children’s book. Fast forward two years and that children’s book is almost here! It was an absolute honor and pleasure to work with my fantastic editor Candlewick on this book, and a revelation to see what the artist gifted Monica Mikai did with this story.

Build a House is the first of four children’s books Giddens has planned with Candlewick Press. The second planned book, we could fly, slated for publication in the fall of 2023 and is based on “We Could Fly”, written with Dirk Powell, a powerful and moving dialogue between mother and daughter inspired by African folklore and celebrating resilience and love. It will be illustrated by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu.

This announcement follows Giddens’ recent professional debut as Bess as Bess in the Greensboro Opera production Porgy and Bessand the news of his two Grammy nominations with his partner Francesco Turrisi: Best folk album for his album Nonesuch 2021 They call me home and Best American Roots Song for the album track “Avalon”. Giddens is now eight times nominated and in 2010 won Best Traditional Folk Album for Real Jig Negro with Carolina chocolate chips. They call me home was widely celebrated by the New York TimesNPR Music, NPR, rolling stone, PeopleAssociated Press, and beyond, with No depression considering it “a near-perfect album…his best work to date.”

Giddens also recently detailed a 2022 that includes the long-awaited world premiere of his opera, Omarat the next Spoleto Festival, and the very first tour of the Lucy Negro Redux ballet for which she composed the score. Omar is based on the life and autobiography of enslaved Muslim American Omar Ibn Said, who was forcibly brought to Charleston, South Carolina from Africa in 1807. You can read more at Omar in these rooms in the New York Times and Garden and Gun. Lucy Negro Redux is a ballet based on a book of poetry by Nashville writer Caroline Randall Williams that explores a character called the “Dark Lady” in Shakespeare’s sonnets.

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