After Rhiannon Giddens performed at the “Another Day, Another Time” concert in New York City in 2013, a golden opportunity came her way.
Giddens, a singing, banjo- and fiddle-playing member of the Grammy-winning string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops, sang Odetta’s “Water Boy” that night during a celebration of folk music heard in the Coen brothers’ film “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
She wowed the audience and the show’s organizer, producer T Bone Burnett.
Burnett — whose credits include such Grammy-winning projects as the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack and the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss duet album “Raising Sand” — urged Giddens to record her solo album debut.
“It was his idea,” Giddens said recently. “He said, ‘I see what you’re doing. This is the time.’ ”
Giddens — who’ll join Acadiana’s Dirk Powell for the sold out “Louisiana Crossroads” kickoff show Tuesday at the Acadiana Center for the Arts — reacted with disbelief.
“It was like a fairy tale,” she said. “I was like, ‘What? OK. Here’s a list of songs I’ve put aside.’ He said, ‘Great. Let’s do it.’ That’s what happened.”
The fruit of Giddens’ and Burnett’s collaboration appears on “Tomorrow Is My Turn.” The album was released in February and an equally rich sequel, the “Factory Girl” EP, will be released on vinyl on Record Store Day, Nov. 27, and in digital format Dec. 11.
“Tomorrow Is My Turn” is an homage to women in American music. Giddens applies her magnificent voice in songs previously performed by Odetta, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Nina Simone, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, Jean Ritchie and the obscure but deserving Geeshie Wiley.
An album of songs associated with female artists wasn’t a project Giddens believed she could do with the Carolina Chocolate Drops.
“I started thinking about the barriers women had to break down, the doors they opened and that I’m just walking on through,” she said. “Not to say that I don’t have my own doors to open, but a lot of that work has been done.”
Working with Burnett was a great studio experience, she said.
“He puts together a first-rate team and creates an atmosphere where you want to do your best,” she said. “I felt like, ‘I’m not letting this guy down. More importantly, I’m not letting myself down. Here I have all these beautiful musicians and this perfect studio. It’s just me and the song now.’ ”
Giddens, Burnett and the session players recorded too many songs for a single album. Thus this month’s release of the “Factory Girl” EP.
“The songs we didn’t include on the original record are A-list songs,” she said. “It made sense to release them as an EP. They’re heavy enough songs on their own.”
“Tomorrow Is My Turn” inspired widespread praise, but Giddens wondered prior to its release if the world was ready for a solo album from her.
“Sometimes a good record is released at the wrong time,” she said. “It’s not appreciated until 20 years later. So I feel like I lucked out. I had a really good record that I was proud of, and people got it.”
Giddens’ other recent activity includes participating in sessions for the late Allen Toussaint’s upcoming album. Although the Toussaint sessions in Los Angeles were difficult for her to join, she pushed everything aside for the chance to work with Toussaint, who died Nov. 9, following a concert in Spain.
“The session was so magical,” she said. “And then, when I heard the news, I was devastated like everybody else. But these are the reasons why you seize the day and think, ‘This is an opportunity that may not come again.’ And it was a beautiful day, and he was a beautiful cat.”