Stories » Silk Road Ensemble with Rhiannon Giddens play 'St. James Infirmary Blues' at TED

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Silk Road Ensemble with Rhiannon Giddens play 'St. James Infirmary Blues' at TED

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Singer Rhiannon Giddens joins international music collective Silk Road Ensemble to perform "St. James Infirmary Blues," spiking the American folk song that Louis Armstrong popularized in the 1920s with Romani influence and mischievous energy.

Since 2005, singer, fiddler and banjo player Rhiannon Giddens has been energizing audiences with her fiery performances with Grammy-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops. She's interpreted fragments of Dylan with the New Basement Tapes (along with fellow group members Elvis Costello and Marcus Mumford).

Inspired by the exchange of ideas and traditions along the historical Silk Road, cellist Yo-Yo Ma established Silkroad in 1998 to explore how the arts can advance global understanding. Since 2000, the Silk Road Ensemble has been at the core of Silkroad's work. Representing a global array of cultures, the Ensemble models new forms of cultural exchange through performances, workshops and residencies. The artists of the Ensemble draw on the rich tapestry of traditions from around the world that make up our many-layered contemporary identities, weaving together the foreign and familiar to create a new musical language.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics - from science to business to global issues - in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

WATCH THE TED VIDEO