In commemoration of US Black History Month 2023, Blues legend – ERIC BIBB – has released a potent, powerful new single: “The Ballad of John Howard Griffin”.
The new single arrives as Bibb also prepares to release his timely new album ‘Ridin’’ on 24 March, a deeply personal collection all inspired by true stories from African American history. Bibb will also tour the UK and Ireland throughout May – tickets.
“The Ballad of John Howard Griffin” draws on the 1961 book “Black Like Me” and tells the true story of Griffin’s experiment to change his skin colour from white to black. Bibb’s soulful storytelling highlights the challenges Griffin faced as a result of his transformation. A powerful reminder of historical discrimination and the ongoing struggle for racial equality, still relevant to this day over 50 years on.
Speaking about the story behind the new single, Bibb explains:
“John Howard Griffin, a brave white man, wanted to experience how it felt to be a black man in the segregated Jim Crow south. With medication and sunlamp treatments he turned his skin dark, shaved his head and toured America’s southern states as a “Negro”. He published his remarkable book, “Black Like Me”, in 1961. The Ballad Of John Howard Griffin came together quickly after reading the book a second time recently. It’s a tribute to his courageous journey.”
Featuring the playing of guitar legend Russell Malone (Diana Krall, Jimmy Smith, Ron Carter), the song was recorded and mixed at Repute Records in Stockholm and produced by Glen Scott. Additional overdubs of Russell Malone recorded by Joel Hamilton at Studio G studios in Brooklyn NYC.
The follow-up to his multiple award-winning, critically acclaimed 2021 album ‘DearAmerica‘, ‘Ridin’’ is a continuation of the vision that informs Bibb’s artistry as a modern-day Blues and features HabibKoite, TajMahal, SteveJordan, TommySims, HarrisonKennedy, RussellMalone, JontaviousWillis as well as a host of brilliant session musicians & singers from around the globe
The ethos for ‘Ridin’’ was hugely inspired by the oil painting by Eastman Johnson, A Ride For Liberty (1862), that depicts an African American family fleeing enslavement in the southern USA during the American Civil War. In Eric’s own words: “Johnson’s painting embodies all the hope, determination and courage that is at the core of the African American experience and needed now throughout the world.”
A two-time Grammy Award nominee with multiple Blues Foundation awards, EricBibb is known and revered globally for having carved his own musical destiny with honesty and power. Eric’s father, the late Leon Bibb, was an activist, actor, and folk singer who marched at Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King. Eric’s youth was spent immersed in the Village folk scene. Names like Dylan, Baez, and Seeger were visitors to his home. He was deeply influenced by Odetta, Richie Havens, and Taj Mahal – who guests on ‘Ridin’’ – and he has synthesised all of that into his very own style.
ERIC BIBB RIDIN’ TOUR – UK & IRELAND DATES:
May 3 Basingstoke The Anvil
May 4 Pontardawe Arts Centre
May 5 Birmingham Town Hall
May 6 Wimborne Tivoli Theatre
May 8 Bury St. Edmunds The Apex
May 9 Bexhill on Sea De la Warr Pavilion
May 11 London King’s Place
May 13 Frome Cheese & Grain
May 14 Exeter Phoenix
May 16 Edinburgh Queen’s Hall
May 17 Glasgow Saint Lukes
May 19 Manchester Stoller Hall
May 20 Leeds City Varieties Music Hall
May 22 WhitleyBay Playhouse
May 23 Milton Keynes The Stables
May 25 Belfast Mandela Hall
May 26 Dublin Liberty Hall Theatre
May 28 Limerick Dolan’s
May 29 Cork Cyprus Avenue
Tickets on sale here: