Trained as an opera singer, Rhiannon Giddens was a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the acclaimed folk group. With the Chocolate Drops and as a solo artist, a virtuoso fiddler and banjo player with a soulful voice, she has delved into African-American and old-time traditions. She won a MacArthur “genius” grant in 2017 and wrote an opera based on the autobiography of Omar Ibn Said, a Muslim man from Africa who was enslaved in South Carolina. (Its planned premiere has been delayed until next year by the coronavirus pandemic.)

Now she will have a new, global curatorial canvas for her genre-skipping ideas. On Tuesday, Silkroad, the cross-cultural music organization created by Yo-Yo Ma in 1998, announced that Ms. Giddens would be its next artistic director.

“I’ve never been interested in ‘Hey, this is me, I’m singing a song,’” Ms. Giddens, 43, said by phone from her home in Ireland. “I’m more: This is the message I’m trying to transmit, if me singing it will get it out there. So this is a great opportunity to bring together what I’ve been doing and what they’ve been doing.”

Silkroad began over 20 years ago as the Silk Road Project, an effort to bring together performers, and music new and old, from the cultures centering on the ancient network of trade routes between East Asia and the Mediterranean. It has since expanded into a multifaceted performing, education and social justice organization with a budget of over $3 million, a broader geographic focus and a reputation for fielding superb artists — as well as some blurriness about its activities, beyond the undeniable good intentions.

“Those are things I’ve heard, and thought myself: There’s so much talent and beauty, but what exactly do they do?” Ms. Giddens said. “What is the overriding mission? We have these resources, these amazing musicians. Can we be saying more? Can we be putting a sharper focus on what we’re trying to say?”

One challenge will be continuing to guide Silkroad’s relationship with Mr. Ma, its artistic director until 2017 and by far its most prominent asset, a superstar performer who opened doors to concertizing and recording worldwide. “Silkroad has to exist outside of Yo-Yo, but Yo-Yo is an inalterable part of Silkroad,” Ms. Giddens said. “Both of those things have to exist at the same time, and it has to take some thought about how to do that in a way that feels good to everyone involved.”

Mr. Ma said in a statement that Ms. Giddens “is an extraordinary human being and musician.”

“She lives Silkroad’s values,” he added, “at once rooted in history and its many musics, and is an advocate for the contemporary voices that can move us to work together for a better world.”

Ms. Giddens will become one of just a handful of women of color in leadership positions in the music world, though she emphasized that her talks with Silkroad had begun in February, well before the country became engrossed in discussions about racial equity.

“They saw all of these things before this was a national conversation,” she said of Kathy Fletcher, Silkroad’s executive director, and the organization’s board. “True diversity is diversity on every level, and you have to see who was walking the walk when no one was paying attention.”

Ms. Giddens added that her role will occasionally showcase her as a performer, including at a Silkroad concert available online starting Wednesday through Tanglewood. And she made a passionate case for the kind of explorations in which the group specializes, even at a time when the aggressive aspects of those cultural exchanges have been highlighted — and sometimes criticized — as appropriation.

“There’s a lot of negativity in our history for sure, but the music that comes along with it is how our beauty is expressed,” she said. “I think context is very important, and being willing to talk about what things came from is paramount, whether it’s from Iran or Tennessee. A more sophisticated understanding of the music is a more sophisticated understanding of the history, and that’s what we need. And I’m bringing a deep dive into the cultural mixing that is America.”

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