James Bay and Rhiannon Giddens debut in ACL Season 42

Austin City Limits features two breakout talents making their ACL debuts—James Bay and Rhiannon Giddens—in a highly-anticipated new installment.  

UK sensation James Bay opens the hour with a stunning, soulful performance featuring songs from his global chart-topping debut Chaos and the Calm.  The 26-year-old singer-songwriter-guitarist has had a banner year earning multiple 2016 Grammy nominations, a BRIT Award win for Best Male Solo Artist, and landing on festival stages including Glastonbury, Lollapalooza and namesake ACL Festival.  In his Austin City Limits debut Bay proves why he is one of today’s biggest live acts, delivering a stellar four-song set highlighted by a powerfully acoustic, stirring rendition of his standout “Let It Go,” and breakthough smash “Hold Back the River.”

Americana sensation Rhiannon Giddens gives a spellbinding performance in her ACL debut, with selections from her widely-acclaimed 2016 Grammy-nominated release Tomorrow Is My Turn.  The album marks Giddens’ solo debut after a decade as a founding member and leader of the award-winning string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops.   Taking the stage barefoot, Giddens dons a banjo to open her dazzling set with “Spanish Mary” (lyrics by Bob Dylan).  The North Carolina native’s canon includes songs that deal with the struggles of slaves in the 19th century, including the Odetta classic “Waterboy” and the chilling “At the Purchaser’s Option,” a Giddens-penned number inspired by a 19th century advertisement for a slave and her baby.  She then enlists guitarist and fellow Drops’ bandmate Hubby Jenkins to join her on vocals for the gospel classic “Children, Go Where I Send Thee,” before closing out the powerful set playfully with the romantic putdown “Louisiana Man.”

photo by Scott Newton

“Fans have been telling us for years they love to tune in to discover new talent they’ve never seen or heard before,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona.  “This show offers a double-bonus for fans of deeply personal, heartfelt songs and singers who possess a distinctive voice.  James and Rhiannon may come from cultures an ocean apart, but their music resonates with audiences worldwide.”

Tune in this weekend for this episode, and, as always, check your local PBS listings for the broadcast time in your area. Go to the episode page for more info, and don’t forget to click over to our Facebook, Twitter and newsletter pages for more ACL info. Tune in next week for another brand new episode featuring the return of Robert Plant.