Silkroad Receives Award for "The American Railroad" Initiative

The National Endowment for the Arts approved a $45,000 award to support the new project

Artistic Director Rhiannon Giddens (Photo credit: Ebru Yildiz)


Silkroad’s newest artistic initiative, "The American Railroad" will uncover the untold history, cultures, and music of the Transcontinental Railroad, shedding light on the communities who helped to build it.

Led by Artistic Director Rhiannon Giddens, the initiative will include a multi-year concert, educational, and commissioning series. The latter of which will create new music that "explores the crossroads of innovation and tradition," according to the press release.

These works will be developed through a series of workshops — exploring the formation of American identity, giving relevant context to our country's current social divisions.

"The American Railroad" is among 1,248 projects across the country, totaling $28,840,000, that were selected to receive this first round of funding in the Grants for Arts Projects category.

“Silkroad is grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for this support, which will propel our efforts to create The American Railroad, as conceived by Rhiannon Giddens,” stated Executive Director Kathy Fletcher.

“Through this artistic initiative, Silkroad will create incredible new music that illuminates the untold stories of the African American, Chinese, Latinx, Irish, and Indigenous communities that built or were adversely impacted by the railroads. By exposing and reckoning with the historical injustices of our country—which have profound reverberations for today—we will unify and connect communities across America in compelling and new ways."