Listen #1 

For my song, “At the Purchaser’s Option” by Rhiannon Giddens addresses a number of political issues that reflect on the political climate of 2017. The two major issues are women’s control of their own bodies and the dignity of women, who refuse to be controlled in spite of their circumstances. Below are two articles, the ban on abortion and the second one being about the Women’s March of 2017. 

  1. With Trump’s backing, House approves ban on abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy



The type of music Rhiannon Giddens writes and performs is in the Folk genre. Within the folk genre, Giddes incorporates gospel, blues, and jazz into her music. In the Rosenthal and Flacks reading, we are subject to matching the genre with how we listen to the song. This is especially relevant in the chapter called “The Power Genre and Musical Code”, where it states “Without conscious effort, we absorb musical conventions; those whole genres that guide our understanding of the meaning of what we’re hearing even more strongly” (Rosenthal & Flacks 52).  We are able to interpret the message in a better sense when we know the context of the genre and for the case of At the Purchaser’s Option, we are able to hear a variety of instruments and background vocals in order to enhance the message. 

Rhiannon Giddens is both the artist and songwriter of the song. As the songwriter, the lyrics are very much directly critiquing slavery and she is also linking this to modern-day human trafficking and forced labor.  

  1. National Human Trafficking Hotline Cases Jump by 13% in 2017
  2. Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage

“At the Purchaser’s Option” may be a phrase from an era of slavery that has passed. However, the song still applies to those in slavery currently” – Rhiannon Giddens


“Day by Day I work the line

 Every minute overtime

 Fingers nimble, fingers quick 

My fingers bleed to make you rich”  

These lyrics are directly parallel to how people who are in menial jobs are being taken advantage of and as a result, are making other people rich in the process.