The Carolina Chocolate Drops is an American old-time string band from Durham, North Carolina. Formed in November 2005, following the members' attendance at the Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, North Carolina, the group originally included Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons and Justin Robinson. All of the musicians sing and trade instruments including banjo, fiddle, guitar, harmonica, snare drum, bones, jug, and kazoo. The group learned much of their repertoire, which is based on the traditional music of the Piedmont region of North and South Carolina, from the eminent African American old-time fiddler Joe Thompson, although they also perform old-time versions of some modern songs. Robinson left the group and was replaced by beatboxer Adam Matta and multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins.
Their debut album, “Dona Got a Ramblin’ Mind” was issued by the Music Maker record label in 2006. In 2007 they appeared on the soundtrack to the film, “The Great Debaters,” performing with Alvin “Youngblood” Hart and Sharon Jones.
Their second album, “Heritage” was released on the Dixiefrog label in 2008. They teamed with Joe Thompson in 2009 for the album, “Joe Thompson and The Carolina Chocolate Drops.”
In 2010 they released the album, “Genuine Negro Jig,” via Nonesuch Records. It went to #1 on the Billboard Bluegrass Albums chart, #2 on the Folk Albums chart and entered the Billboard 200 Albums chart. “Genuine Negro Jig,” won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards.
Their second album on Nonesuch, “Leaving Eden” was issued in 2012. New Orleans based cellist Leyla McCalla has joined the band on its current tour.