When you see them perform together, it’s hard to believe that bluegrass stars Giri and Uma Peters are just 14 and 11, respectively.
But that’s not it. Guitarist/fiddler/mandolinist Giri and fiddler/clawhammer banjo player Uma are also probably the only Indian Americans to explore this genre.
After performing to packed venues around the country, the brother-sister duo from Nashville, Tennessee, released their new album, “Origins,” May 31, which contains eight songs.
“Although young in age, their musicianship and vocal harmonies showcase a level of creativity and originality well beyond their years,” says the duo’s Facebook page, and rightly so.
They have attracted the attention of MacArthur Genius Grant awardee Rhiannon Giddens, dobro master Jerry Douglas, and blues harmonica great Phil Wiggins.
Giri, according to their Facebook page, has loved music since he was a toddler and “started begging” for a toy violin when he was three. He started Suzuki violin when he was five and fell in love with acoustic music when he was eight, at which point, he started playing fiddle and mandolin. He’s mostly self-taught on the guitar.
Uma, the post said, started Suzuki violin after sitting in with her brother and switched to playing fiddle as well, adding, she saw Rhiannon Giddens and the Carolina Chocolate Drops band when she was seven, and started playing clawhammer banjo shortly thereafter.
According to a report on gratefulweb.com, they became a duo in 2015, when their effort to compete in a band category at the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree in Smithville, Tennessee, “seemed doomed” because, according to Uma, “No adults wanted to play with us.” Their teacher suggested they enter as a pair, said the report, adding, three years later, they won two band categories.
That first year, Giri swept every youth competition music category except banjo, which Uma won, and they did it again in 2016, and also earned individual wins in 2018 (they had to sit out 2017), said the report.
They have also collected awards at the Old Fiddlers’ Convention in Galax, Tennessee, the John Hartford Memorial Festival in Bean Blossom, Indiana, and the Grand Master Fiddler Championship at Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame, according to gratefulweb.com.
They’ve also performed at the World of Bluegrass week in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Folk Alliance International’s International Folk Music Awards in Kansas City, Missouri, it said.