THE TITLE TRACK of Rhiannon Giddens' debut solo album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, comes from a song by French composer Charles Aznavour, which was later interpreted by Nina Simone. Though based on the experiences of WWII French prisoners of war, for Simone the song became a uniquely personal statement, a cry of endurance and triumph against all odds. For Giddens, this sentiment could be interpreted in another way; after a musical career spanning more than a decade, it seems as though her turn in the spotlight is about to arrive.

Giddens first came to national attention with the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Grammy Award-winning string band she co-founded in 2005 in North Carolina. The Carolina Chocolate Drops were unique in today's folk scene because they were African American, and they were proficient with numerous traditional American instruments, and could interpret many genres of music—Piedmont blues, jug band, gospel, jazz, and even R&B—while making it sound fresh.

But the strongest element of the Chocolate Drops was Giddens' powerful and commanding voice, owing in part to her opera training at Oberlin. That voice moved famed record producer (and impresario of old-timey music) T Bone Burnett to invite her to be a part of 2013's "Another Day, Another Time" concert at New York City's Town Hall, and to participate, along with Elvis Costello, Jim James, and others, in 2014's Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, a collection of unfinished songs written by Bob Dylan in 1967.

Giddens and Burnett teamed up again for Tomorrow Is My Turn, with 10 cover songs and one original. The songs Giddens chose to cover were either written or popularized by women, a decision Giddens says wasn't planned in advance. "I had a list of songs that weren't really fitting into the Chocolate Drops world, and that list just happened to be dominated by women," she says over the phone during a stop in Boulder, Colorado. "It wasn't something I set out to do, but it just went along with stuff I was thinking about anyway, about where I stand in the history of women in music."

The songs run the gamut of American roots music. In addition to the title track, Giddens takes on Dolly Parton's "Don't Let It Trouble Your Mind," Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Up Above My Head," Patsy Cline's "She's Got You," and Odetta's "Waterboy," which has been bringing audiences to their feet when she performs it live. Giddens also covers Elizabeth Cotten's classic "Shake Sugaree," and opens the album with an obscure song from 1930, "Last Kind Words," by the little-known Geeshie Wiley. "The bulk of it came from me," Giddens says about picking songs for the album, "and T Bone and I refined it together."

Her backing band, assembled by Burnett, gives Giddens' voice plenty of space to breathe, and, even when they attempt unorthodox things—beatboxing on "Black Is the Color," for instance—the record remains grounded in Americana roots.

"It's not a commercial record," Giddens says. "I'm not trying to be played on country radio; it's still a roots-based record." It sits apart from the current trend of traditional roots music, which she laments has become, predominately, "commercial pop music, played on banjos. It has robbed folk music of its traditional power. [Folk music] is more than just love songs."

Giddens' ability to interpret a variety of American musical styles was influenced by her multiracial background. "When you grow up biracial, multiracial, multicultural, whatever you want to call it, I think it's easier for you to see somebody else's point of view, because you've had to pick and choose sometimes which sides you represent to the world. The best thing you can do is turn that into a positive and let that affect other parts of your life... I see being biracial as an opportunity to be a bridge. I bridge between classical and vernacular; I bridge between country and blues."