Kronos Quartet performs Rhiannon Giddens’ “At the Purchaser’s Option with variations”


At the Purchaser’s Option has been played and performed by various of artists, creating substance and an understanding of the song in a new light. With Rhiannon Giddens’ folk style type of music, many have tried to replicate her version and add a new twist, whether that be the vocals, delivery, or the instruments being played.

Grammy award-winning quartet group called the “Kronus Quartet”, delivers a unique and great performance for which the instruments are the main components. The use of the violin and cello creates substance and even shows the intensity without the lyrics being sung. Without knowing the context of the performance, The song’s instruments are able to function for a wide spread of music in the classical and folk genres.  Even with that being said, I feel that the performance helped me realize that the lyrics are an integral part of the story Rhiannon Giddens is trying to express. And without them, one might be oblivious to the issue Giddens is constantly trying to express through her music.

At The Purchaser’s Option – Rhiannon Giddens at Augusta Vocal Week 2016


In 2016, Rhiannon Giddens performed her song during vocal week at the Augusta Heritage Center. While very similar to the original version she put out, I feel that hearing her song live I was able to to hear the message that so many protest songs have, the idea of addressing an issue but also expressing hope and positivity for the future.

Giddens gives the backstory of the song, as she begins strumming and saying how lucky she is not to be a part of a situation like the song illustrates. In regards to the music industry, we tend to see artists gravitate toward more present issues and have that relatability factor to the modern world. Still, in Giddens’s case, we are hearing her tell a story of a woman through her music. In the performance, we see she is putting in the shoes of the ones who have suffered during slavery and as a result, builds the intensity of both the lyrics and the overall performance. We can see how the instruments play a factor in the performance when we see a banjo being played, along with the social percussion and the bass being played, all 3 help the song flow in the road of hope and prosperity for the future.