Rising Appalachia Shines, Shows They’re ‘Resilient,’ Displays American Roots At NPR’s Tiny Desk



Rising Appalachia‘s Tiny Desk Concert is charged with the roots music that sisters Leah Song and Chloe Smith learned in fiddle camps as kids. Growing up in urban Atlanta and beyond, they also heard rhythms from a wider world, and their music grew to reflect new sounds and their activism. When they came to NPR, their van was packed with a bodhrán (Irish drum), an ngoni (West African harp) a huge gourd, a cello, a baritone guitar and more, including the other musicians who make up this wandering, Atlanta-based band: David Brown, Biko Casini, Arouna Diarra and Duncan Wickel.

But American roots music sure seems to be the connecting tissue for this group. They end the set with a song Leah and Chloe “learned from our mama, an old boot-stompin’ Appalachian folk tune” called “Cuckoo,” where the many worlds of American, Irish and African music and storytelling combine, and Rising Appalachia shines.


  • “Resilient”
  • “Medicine”
  • “Cuckoo”


Leah Song: vocals, banjo, bodhrán; Chloe Smith: vocals, guitar, fiddle, banjo; David Brown: baritone guitar; Biko Casini: percussion; Arouna Diarra: ngoni; Duncan Wickel: fiddle, cello


Producers: Bob Boilen, Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern; Creative director: Bob Boilen; Audio engineers: Josh Rogosin, Natasha Branch; Editor: Maia Stern; Videographers: Kara Frame, Morgan Noelle Smith, Maia Stern, Jack Corbett; Associate producer: Bobby Carter; Executive producer: Lauren Onkey; VP, programming: Anya Grundmann; Photo: Mhari Shaw

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