×

Singer-songwriter Rhiannon Giddens, accompanied virtually by virtuoso cellist Yo-Yo Ma, has released a new song called “Build a House” in honor of Juneteenth.

“This song, ‘Build a House,’ came knocking a week ago and I had to let it in,” Giddens wrote in a Twitter message accompanying the nearly five-minute-long song, which features split video of her performing it with Ma. “What can I say about what’s been happening, what has happened, & what continues to happen, in this country, in the world? There’s too many words & none, all at once. So I let the music speak, as usual.

“What a thing to mark this 155th anniversary of Juneteenth with that beautiful soul, @YoYo_Ma,” she wrote in a follow-up Tweet. “Honored to have it out in the world.”

 

Ma wrote in a tweet sharing an excerpt of the song, “There are so many stories made invisible: too-often-violent histories hidden beneath the surfaces of our cities, our institutions, our music. It’s our job to make them visible. I’m honored to mark #Juneteenth with a new song by @RhiannonGiddens. #blacklivesmatter #songsofchange

The songs lyrics appear below.

The pair previously collaborated on “Sing Me Home,” the 2016 album by Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble.

Giddens is best known as a country and roots musician — an accomplished singer, she also she plays banjo and fiddle — but studied opera at the Oberlin Conservatory. In addition to her solo recordings and extensive session and guest work, she is a member of the Grammy-winning combo the Carolina Chocolate Drops.

Yo-Yo Ma is one of the most widely renowned classical musicians in the world, with degrees from the Julliard School and Harvard University and multiple recordings and performances. He has won eight Grammy Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and multiple other honors.

You brought me here to build your house, build your house, build your house

You brought me here to build your house and grow your garden fine

I laid the brick and built your house, built your house, built your house

I laid the brick and built your house, raised the plants so high

And when you had the house and land, the house and land, the house and land

And when you had the house and land, then you told me “go.”

 

I found a place to build my house, build my house, build my house

I found a place to build my house since I couldn’t go back home

You said I couldn’t build a house, build a house, build a house

You said I couldn’t build a house, so you burned it down

So then I traveled far and wide, far and wide, far and wide

And then I traveled far and wide until I found a home

I learned your words and wrote a song, wrote a song, wrote a song

I learned your words and wrote a song to put my story down

 

But then you came and took my song, took my song, took my song

But then you came and took my song, playing it for your own

I took my bucket, lowered it down, lowered it down, lowered it down

I took my bucket, lowered it down, the well will never run dry.

You brought me here to build a house, build a house, build a house

You brought me here to build a house. I will not be moved.

No, I will not be moved. No, I will not be, I will not be, I will not be moved.