Rhiannon Giddens, who studied music as a graduate student at UNC Greensboro, will receive the 2023 Pulitzer Prize in Music for the opera “Omar,” which she co-wrote with Michael Abels. According to a university news release, the work explores the life of Omar Ibn Said, a Muslim who was enslaved in the Carolinas in the 19th century.

The Pulitzer committee released a statement saying the opera expands “the language of the operatic form while conveying the humanity of those condemned to bondage.”

Giddens, a two-time Grammy winner, received a MacArthur “Genius” grant in 2017.

The opera “Omar” premiered at Charleston’s Spoleto Festival in 2022, less than a mile from where Said was sold. It has since been performed in several U.S. cities. 

Giddens is scheduled to return to Greensboro for a performance at the Carolina Theater in September.

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