Although accustomed to spending much of her time on the road, Rhiannon Giddens has instead been in self-isolation in Limerick, Ireland, with her children and her Italian partner Francesco Turrisi. In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Giddens says it is “the most time I’ve spent in one place in probably about 14 years.” In addition to perfecting her bread-baking skills, the Grammy-winning artist and MacArthur Genius has released an uplifting music video to accompany her recording of “Just the Two of Us,” the song that the late Bill Withers and Grover Washington Jr. took to Number Two in 1981.
Cut a few years ago, Giddens’ version of the tune had been stored away in a vault until Withers’ death last month reminded her of the recording. “[We] thought it would serve as the perfect backdrop to the reality of where we are now – staying inside so that our healthcare workers have the best chance to fight this virus that cares nothing for the artificial divisions we have put up between us,” Giddens says in a release. “So whether it’s just the two of us, or just a few of us; whether the lockdown has been for months or it’s about to be lifted; Covid-19 is here for the foreseeable future, and the more we can be alone together now, the better the future will be.”
In addition to Giddens’ soulful vocal, her take on the tune is buoyed by the unique instrumentation, which includes sousaphone, trombone and harmonica, the latter contributed by her longtime collaborator Sxip Shirey, and the inspirational video features footage and photos taken by friends and family in quarantine, along with doctors and essential workers in the North Carolina UNC and NY-Presbytarian healthcare systems.
Proceeds from the song will be donated to Global Giving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, which aims to stop the spread of the virus and give communities on the front lines of the crisis the resources they need to act quickly and protect the most vulnerable.