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Interview with Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib; Interview with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba; Interview with "Legacy" Co-Host and "Decolonising My Body" Author Afua Hirsch; Interview with "Legacy" Co-Host and "The Earth Transformed" Author Peter Frankopan; Interview with "You're the One" Musician and Grammy Award-Winning Musician Rhiannon Giddens. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired January 03, 2024 - 13:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.

A wider Middle East war? Explosions in Iran leave dozens dead near the grave of military commander Qasem Soleimani, a day after Israel allegedly

assassinated a senior Hamas leader in Lebanon. I'll ask the country's foreign minister how all this will -- how it will respond.

Then, how all of this overshadows the Ukraine war as Russian missiles rain down. I speak to Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv.

Plus, legacy from Napoleon to Nina Simone. A discussion about some of history's most extraordinary figures and whether we have their stories


And finally, some folk for the soul. Pulitzer Prize-winning musician Rhiannon Giddens talks to Walter Isaacson.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Renewed fears today that Israel's war on Hamas is escalating beyond Gaza. In Iran, more than a hundred people have been killed and nearly double that

number have been wounded in explosions at a ceremony marking four years since the U.S. assassinated Revolutionary Guards leader Qasem Soleimani.

Iranian officials say at least one was a remotely detonated suitcase bomb, and state media calls it a terror attack. It comes a day after an airstrike

on a Beirut building that killed a senior Hamas leader. Israel has not confirmed that it carried out that strike, but a U.S. official tells CNN

that it was indeed responsible.

The Lebanese prime minister accused Israel of trying to drag it into a regional war. Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib is holding emergency

meetings at the White House, and he's joining me now from Washington.

Foreign Minister, welcome to the program. So, first, can I ask you the big picture? As your prime minister said, that he fears that you are being

dragged into a wider war. Do you feel that?

ABDALLAH BOU HABIB, LEBANESE FOREIGN MINISTER: We feel and we're afraid of it because the government of Lebanon, the Lebanese, don't want any war and

we'd like to have peace in our southern borders. But the issue is, you know, what's happening in Gaza definitely affects what's happening in

Lebanon because there are issues that have not been settled for the last 75 years.

And so, we have problems. We -- yesterday, what happened in Lebanon, it is an Israeli attack in Lebanon, in Beirut. Would there be a response? I don't

know whether it is this, but the government of Lebanon would not make any response. We'll go to United Nation and we'll have a complaint at the

United Nation.

AMANPOUR: OK. Can I ask you this? You know, the Israelis have not publicly confirmed it, but the U.S. has, you know, told CNN that they believe that

this is what happened. And, you know, the Israeli government spokesperson, the adviser to the prime minister has indicated that this was an attack on

Hamas, not an attack on Lebanon and not an attack on Hezbollah.

So, the question is, will Lebanon or Hezbollah, do you think, respond? And the leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, has been having a long speech

this afternoon in which basically he said that it was blatant Israeli aggression and, "If the enemy decides to wage war against Lebanon, our

combat will have no limits." What do you think is going to happen?

BOU HABIB: I'd hope and pray that there wouldn't be any response and that Israel would not do it again, because whether they said it or not, it came

first on their news items, you know, from different TVs, Israeli TVs, that they did it. And then there was a statement, don't say that.


So, anyway, what we want is that we don't want any escalation in the war. We don't want what's happening in the south to be spread to over Lebanon.

We don't like a regional war because it's dangerous to everybody. Dangerous to Lebanon, dangerous to Israel and to the countries surrounding Israel,

whether it is Syria, which kept itself a little bit as a government outside of the war and whether also Jordan, you know, because you have Palestinians

all over and you have people that they ideologically different with Israel that will join the Palestinians in the -- in this battle.

So, a regional war is bad for everybody. And if Israel is going to continue that and if it is -- Israel like what happened today in Iran is Israeli --

is made in Israel, because there are in the Arab mind, there are two countries that can do it, either the United States or Israel. And of

course, it is Israel in this case.

So, if it's going to continue like that, I'm afraid. That we are really approaching a regional war, which everybody in the region would regret

having it.

AMANPOUR: So, that's your opinion about who did that in Iran.

BOU HABIB: That's true.

AMANPOUR: They are saying that it's a terrorist attack.


AMANPOUR: And we will wait to see if there are any further details. But here's the thing. The more this happens, the more your region is on a hair

trigger, and we've had the Iran-backed Houthis targeting, shipping in the Red Sea. It just seems that the new year is opening --

BOU HABIB: That's right.

AMANPOUR: -- with more and not less tension outside of Gaza itself. And throughout the last period of several months, Hezbollah and Israel have

been trading fire. And the question is, just from your perspective, can you -- I mean, obviously, you don't want as a government to enter into a war

with Israel, and I mean, I covered the 2006 war, I saw what it did to Lebanon, and I want to know whether you have influence over Hezbollah. Can

they be restrained from taking this any further?

BOU HABIB: Well, we always have dialogue. It's not like we boycott each other, no. We dialogue with them. The prime minister, I talked to him this

morning and he talked with Hezbollah all the time.

I don't think -- I don't know, you know, the decision is theirs and we hope that they don't take -- they don't commit themselves to a larger war, but

we're working with them on this. And we have a lot of reasons to think that this would not happen, that they -- we do not want -- as Lebanese, all of

us, we do not want any war.

So, yes. It's not like we can order them. We're not claiming that, but we can convince them. And I think it is working in this direction.

AMANPOUR: So, what can you say to the U.S. because you will be having talks with experts and Middle East advisers at the National Security

Council at the White House? What do you want from them, given the fact that the United States is not the most popular in that region right now? It's

viewed by a lot of people as enabling the Israel war on Gaza. And it's also viewed as not being able to have much of a restraining influence on Israel.

So, what are you going to seek from the United States that can make a difference?

BOU HABIB: Well, in the only country that can make peace really with the help of other countries, but the United States is the leader is for peace,

if it wants peace.

Yes. I mean, look at 1975 -- in '73 and '75 Kissinger was the secretary of state and he did achieve a lot of peace and that (INAUDIBLE) fire at that

time because of their influence on Israel. And they can do the same thing if they read (ph) Kissinger himself, they'll find a solution for how can

they do it with Israel. But you cannot leave Israel doing what it is doing now because it is not a factor for peace, it's a factor for more hatred and

more of the same in the future.

We need really after -- 75 years of war, since 1948, now, it's time to try peace. We can always go to war if peace does not work. So, let's try peace.

Unfortunately, Rabin was killed and assassinated in 1995, and therefore the march for peace stopped, but I think there should be now a new march for

peace. The only people that can lead it, the only country that can lead it is the United States.


AMANPOUR: Let me ask you another question. After the slaughter of 1,200 people inside Israel and the kidnap of now there are about 129 still

hostages inside Hamas, Israel has responded, and the authorities in Gaza say that 22,000 and more people have been killed since the offensive that

started October 7th.

Number one, well, what do you think the result of that's going to be in a situation where you say we have to have a peaceful solution or peace

settlement after this?

BOU HABIB: You know, I was with the World Bank during the peace process of the '90s. And I think -- I thought the Palestinians were happy to have

peace at that time. I could feel them that they are happy to have peace. And so, were the Israelis as well. Unfortunately, it didn't work, you know.

And now, you know, 22,000 is 1 percent of the people of Gaza. 1 percent of the people of the United States is like 3.5 million. So, you know, that's

too much. That's what Israel should think about what they're doing. They are not making peace.

I mean, this is not like -- even if it captures all the leaders of Hamas, there will be new leaders coming. I mean, a few years ago or a couple

decades ago there were different leadership for the Palestinians. Now, it is Hamas. And in the future, who knows what it will be.

As long as there is no peace, I think more and more violence would happen and what you call terrorism, but -- what the West called terrorism and

terrorists would be -- they are a factor for peace. Arafat was called terrorist, Menachem Begin was called a terrorist, and so is the IRA people

were called terrorists, and then they became factors for peace.

I think this is the way the United States should be working in order to achieve peace. Let's give peace a chance. After 75 years of war, give peace

a chance and let's see what happens.

AMANPOUR: Well, we will hope to hear what commitments you get from the United States after your meetings. Foreign Minister, thank you so much,

indeed, for joining us.

Now, Ukraine has been coming under heavy missile strikes from Russia for days, and while it managed to shoot down most of those missiles on Tuesday,

five people were killed and 130 injured, with a residential building destroyed in the capital. It's a stark reminder that while the eyes of the

world are on the Middle East, Ukrainians continue to live under attack.

Head of the Armed Forces, General Valery Zaluzhny, says they need resources, "It's weapons, it's ammunition, it's people we need."

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba joins me now from Kyiv. Welcome back to our program, Foreign Minister Kuleba.

So, do you -- you've just heard my conversation about a potential wider war, about, you know, the terrible toll inside Gaza, the Middle East, the

way it's heating up. Do you feel that you are living in the shadows now of people's attention?

DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, we are definitely not in an attention race with anyone, and every war is a tragedy by definition,

wherever it takes place, because it affects -- it kills, it destroys, and it ruins people's lives.

I think it's pretty much in the hands of journalists, actually, to keep track of both conflicts and other wars that are taking place around the

globe. But we don't feel any lack of attention when it comes to officials, when it comes to our negotiations with partners.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, do you feel then that the fact that the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament or the E.U. have, you know, stymied your

requests? Frankly, they're not sending what they promised in terms of military assistance, in terms of financial aid. Is that part of what we're

seeing playing out in your capital and other cities right now?

KULEBA: Well, the good news is that we have not heard discussions in Washington about the expediency of providing aid to Ukraine or to Israel or

to other countries. As far as we understand, as far as we see it from here, from Kyiv, the debate is centered on the domestic issue of border. in the

United States. And therefore, we understand that you support Ukraine is not being questioned as such.

But of course, the missiles and drones strike, the combined missile and drone strike, like the one we had two days ago, is an alarm, is a reminder

to everyone that something unprecedented is happening that -- in this part of the world, that the war is not frozen, the war is not forgotten, and the

aid should be provided as soon as possible.


Because I would like to emphasize this was a historic and historically unprecedented missile and drone attack with the use of ballistic missiles.

Ukraine was the first country in the world to successfully repel this attack and shoot down all ballistic -- Russian ballistic missiles with the

use of U.S. weapons, and we are grateful for providing them.

AMANPOUR: So, it appears, according to your own military and others, that you are, you know, rapidly burning through, if I can use that term,

especially, you know, air defense systems like Patriots, NASAMS. And at the moment, they're not in the pipeline to you.

You have tweeted and talked about them a shopping list, if I can put it that way, five steps that you want to happen right now. Let me just read

them quickly. Expedite the delivery of additional air defense systems and ammunition. Provide Ukraine with combat drones of all times -- of all

types. Provide Ukraine with long-range missiles. Approve the use of frozen Russian assets for assisting Ukraine. Isolate Russian diplomats in relevant

capitals and international organizations. And don't turn a blind eye to the murder of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure in


OK. So, that's your shopping list. What is your plan for getting that in a timely manner?

KULEBA: Yes. Well, shopping list is not the diplomatic term that I would use here, but this is definitely the five steps that I think would make a

lot of sense and would help us defeat Russia.

And let me say this. The coalition that in the -- during the Cold War, the coalition that outcompeted the Soviet Union and its allies was by all

accounts much weaker than the coalition that is now helping Ukraine to defeat Russian aggression. The combined GDP of Ukraine and its allies is 21

times higher than the combined GDP of Russia and its very few allies. So, there are sufficient resources to provide Ukraine with the help we are

requesting. All the West has to do is to start believing in itself in its capacity to prevail.

And of course, time matters. We cannot sit and wait until -- and follow endless discussions on this matter. So, we call on everyone to expedite the

decisions that are pending that are in the pipeline because the West has shown that it's capable of defending democracy. What needs to be done is

the effort must be stepped up and expedited.

AMANPOUR: This is what the secretary general of NATO told me just before Christmas about what you need and about the fact that the politics have

intervened in the United States. And I'm just going to play that and then we'll talk about it.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Of course, it would have been much better if the U.S. Congress could have decided on a new package or a

new allocation of money to Ukraine before Christmas. At the same time, I continue to count on the United States and the U.S. Congress to agree a

substantial package for Ukraine because this is not charity, this is not only something we do to support Ukraine, we do it because it is an

investment in our own security.


AMANPOUR: So, I assume, Foreign Minister, that you would agree that this is not charity, it's a major investment in western security.

So, in the meantime, while we're "counting" on Congress to get you your aid, which, of course, the Biden administration and the E.U. said they

would be with you for as long as it takes, what are you doing as a plan B? We hear about increased guerrilla tactics. There are, you know, strikes of

certain types inside Russian territory. What are you doing to take the initiative into your own hands?

KULEBA: Hello?

AMANPOUR: Did you hear me, Foreign Minister?

KULEBA: Can you please say the last sentence again? Can you repeat it, please?

AMANPOUR: I will. In the meantime, as you're waiting for aid and more military help, what are you doing as a plan B? Because we read about

guerrilla tactics, we read about tunnels being blown up, we read about -- and I think even your own military has admitted to firing inside Russia.

So, what is your plan B? How are you going to make up for this shortfall?


KULEBA: We don't have plan B. We're confident in plan A. Ukraine was -- will always fight with the resources available to it. And as secretary

general said -- rightly said, what is given to Ukraine is not a charity, it's an investment in the protection of NATO and in the protection of also

the prosperity of the American people.

Because if Russia theoretically prevails in Ukraine, other leaders across the world will be tempted to follow Russia's footprints and securing -- and

ensuring security in these parts of the world and deterring these leaders and their countries will require a much, much higher price tag for the

United States.

And finally, you know, those who -- since you mentioned the NATO secretary general, I would like to say one thing. Those who, in their foreign policy

calculations, believe that Putin will not dare to attack a NATO country if he sees that he can succeed in Ukraine are making a huge mistake, and they

should change their job.

So, whatever the price tag today is, the price tag of anything that will follow if Ukraine does not receive the help today will be much, much

higher. And this is why we believe in plan A, and we work on plan A, and we'll get it done.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about a different issue, the idea of negotiations. First of all, today, President Zelenskyy tweeted a picture

with a message that another 200 Ukrainian prisoners of war have been returned, and, you know, a lot of celebration over that, and we have a lot

of, you know, video of that that he tweeted out.

But at the same time, if you're able to have those negotiations, which have been ongoing through the war to exchange prisoners of war between both

sides, are you prepared to negotiate with Putin? There are reports, and we've been told, that for the last several months, he has been sending out

feelers that he wants to negotiate, essentially freeze the battle, the current battle lines. Is that something that Ukraine would even entertain

right now?

KULEBA: Well, he sent a very clear message less than 48 hours ago, 10 ballistic missiles, dozens of drones and other types of missiles that were

attacking Kyiv. And I assure you that it was scary. I'm 42 years old. I've been through many things, but it was a truly scary morning for me, not to

mention my children and other residents of Kyiv. And I don't need any other signals that put in ascending, because when you genuinely want peace, you

behave yourself differently.

When it comes to the prisoner swap, well, it is true that since the beginning of the large-scale invasion, the only real functioning

negotiating track was the prisoner swap. As it -- and it's very common for any war in any part of the world to have that track working.

So -- but even on this track, we did not have any swaps for five months. Five months off silence and Russia's total reluctance to return its own

citizens, its own soldiers back home. So, it also gives you an understanding of how reliable Russia is as negotiating partner.

AMANPOUR: So, just finally, you know, there was a huge national effort to sign up to fight at the beginning. Now, as we quoted General Zaluzhnyi, you

need everything, including more soldiers. And there has been reports of rather aggressive recruiting tactics and a demand for a lot -- hundreds of

thousands of more troops.

I asked you in the summer whether your counteroffensive was failing or succeeding, and you were very quick to say, no, no, no, we're not failing.

But just can you give me an honest answer as to how you're doing, because we read that the Russians are able to take back some territory and you

haven't been able to take back much territory for about a year now.

KULEBA: Well, I was honest with you back then, and I will be honest with you now, the situation on the front line in the east and in the south of

Ukraine is more or less even. Russia is slightly moving forward in some areas. We're moving forward in other areas.

We were far more successful on the Black Sea by pushing back Russian Black Sea fleet to the east coast of Russia on the Black Sea. It allowed us to

fully restore our export corridors. We are very successful in deterring Russian missile attacks in the places where we have air defense systems,

and we secured the head bridge on the right bank of Dnipro River near Kherson.


But if I zoom out from this -- from the ground, I would say that we are now preparing for the next battles because this is the war that is fought in

stages. It's -- it requires time and effort.

AMANPOUR: And resources. Dmytro Kuleba, thank you so much, indeed, for joining us.

Now, is it time to rethink some of our historical perspectives? That's the question being asked on a new podcast, "Legacy," which takes a look back at

the revered, the feared, and even everyone in between. From Napoleon Bonaparte to Nina Simone, Mikhail Gorbachev to Pablo Picasso. Historian

Peter Frankopan and writer and broadcaster Afua Hirsch are questioning everything we thought we knew about the most. influential figures of the

past. And now, they're joining me here in the studio. Welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, this is really interesting. What was the sort of origin story? Why did you decide and how did you decide to get together to do

this? Let me ask you first.

HIRSCH: Well, I'm not an academic historian, Peter is, and I've been an admirer of his work for many years, but my interest in history and the

reason why I write and speak a lot about it is because of the way it's shaped our contemporary reality, the impact of some of these heroes,

titans, legends who live on in our curricula, in our films, in our contemporary storytelling, has very -- it's very real.

You know, whether you look at race, class, education, our sense of our identity in the world, you can trace much of it to the ideas we have about

these people. And I think it is so important for us to be honest about the legacy of these people, and it's actually more interesting, the kind of

hagiographies that we are used to seeing.

So, for me, this was a chance to speak to someone who I hugely admire and respect, but with whom I share a slightly different worldview.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's kind of interesting, because I understand that when you first met to talk and discuss, you didn't exactly agree.

PETER FRANKOPAN, CO-HOST, "LEGACY" AND AUTHOR, "THE EARTH TRANSFORMED": Well, but we can still be very polite. In today's world of politicians

shouting each other, you know, having different perspectives is not just OK, it's a really good thing. You know, you love people who can see things

from different points of view.

So, some of the people we've looked at so far, like Napoleon and Cecil Rhodes are hugely complicated, but history is always about legacy. I mean,

here, you know, that better than anyone, Christiane, here on CNN, when we think about, you know, how do we evaluate any personal event from the past,

those things start to shift over time.

So, after we did something, we -- the first event we did many years ago was about whether statues should be taken down. And, you know, I learned a lot,

actually. It wasn't that we disagreed, it was listening to someone who's eloquent, clever, smart about how they see things and what matters to them.

It's a hugely important educational process.

AMANPOUR: So, then let's talk, because you talked about the statues. I will talk about Napoleon in a moment, because that was your first inquiry.

But the Cecil Rhodes statue is a big deal. You're both Oxford knicks, if I can say. You're a current professor. You were a student at Oxford. And

Cecil Rhodes is on a plinth there at one of the colleges. Now, he was taken down in South Africa, but not here in the U.K.

You wrote -- I think you wrote a very famous "Guardian" column about all of these statues --


AMANPOUR: -- whether it was Nelson or Cecil Rhodes. What is your feeling today, after all the Black Lives Matter, or the attempt to sort of

recalibrate our look at history, today, or these years later, about the fact that it's still up there? How -- what do you discuss?

HIRSCH: I think we should listen more to the voices of people who want statues taken down and that the idea that removing statues is somehow

destroying history is profoundly dishonest.

Actually, many of these statues were built long after the events they depict and were acts of political propaganda that served a political

purpose. They're not some kind of perfect, pristine monument to history.

And Cecil Rhodes, and the reason why it's great to do a podcast like this, he was actually profoundly controversial in his time. Many of the most

imperialist patriotic Brits at the time thought he was ruining the name of imperialism through his corruption, greed. But he was also a very complex

and flawed person. And I think it's in the nuance that it's actually useful.

And it's not just to remember the past, but it tells us something about society today, who gets a platform to speak, who gets silenced, and I think

the way many of these protesters were actually attacked by the institutions that should have been looking into the claims they were making is an

example of how unresolved a lot of this is, and that's something we discuss in the episodes.

FRANKOPAN: Well, you know, you could make the case that a statue goes up and its aim is to fall one day. It's who takes it down and where and why,

you know.

AMANPOUR: That's novel.

FRANKOPAN: Well, all those statues of the Roman emperors, you know, they all got replaced all the time. In fact, lots had heads that you'd screw

often --


FRANKOPAN: -- put somebody's head back on, and mostly that's how it worked. You were great and the good. Those things kept on changing. And if

you could keep your statue up for centuries, you'd either done something really right or something really wrong.

So, you know, when we talked about it, we stood outside by the biceps or red statue, and we kind of went, you know, Oxford is filled with statues.

No one bothers to pay any attention to them, including really important ones, right in front of the Bodleian Library. Most of the students who go

in there will never think twice about who that might be. And so, we kind of -- so statues only become important when we need them and want to become



And the Rhodes statue became a kind of a cypher and a signa for something really important because of Black Lives Matter.

HIRSCH: I mean, if Rhodes spent money on monuments to be named after him so people could remember him, I think the protests against Rhodes and the

demands for Rhodes must all have been the best gift he could have asked for. Because I don't think we'd have been talking about him today if it

wasn't for that movement.

AMANPOUR: And what about Napoleon? Because, you know, I don't know, I think the research says that more books have been written about Napoleon

than Jesus Christ or the Prophet Muhammad. I mean, what is it about him? Ridley Scott has just done a biopic. I don't know whether it's a

hagiography, but it's multiple hours. And you have, you know, you've chosen him as one of your characters.

FRANKOPAN: Well, I think the whole point of something like Napoleon is that even for us today, it's hugely contradictory and difficult. I mean, we

spoke about that, about how, you know, is Napoleon the champion of France or the destroyer of lives across Europe?

You know, he was, on the one hand, restored France's dignity after the revolution, but replaced a king with an emperor, unleashed hell across the

whole of a continent, in fact, across holes of continents.

HIRSCH: And if you look at the very fraught conversations about race that are happening in France, a lot of that is centered on whether Napoleon

should be celebrated or vilified. He reintroduced slavery in the French empire, affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people of African


And the way that these historical figures is contested is really a proxy for something deeper that we're trying to resolve today about the reason we

have the kind of inequity that we have, the reason that we struggle to talk about history and identity, the reason some people feel they belong and

some feel exclude it's so intimately linked to these histories and the way we talk about them, and I don't think we can progress unless we're more

honest, unless we're willing to lean into the uncomfortable conversation because you can't progress by being comfortable all the time and we're

really, I think, trying to embody that in our conversation.

AMANPOUR: Well, and you have unbelievable figures like Nina Simone and Pablo Picasso, which probably fall into slightly different, you know -- I

mean, they didn't -- well, they did move worlds obviously, but in different ways.

But I guess I want to ask you about your own writings on legacy. You've just, well, recently published a major book on -- basically, on the

climate, haven't you? And it's huge. And it's about our legacy for the future. And there has been so little civilized dialogue for too many

decades. Where do you stand? I mean, if that was one of your podcast subjects, the climate, how would that -- how would our conversation about

it, our examination of legacy and the future fall down, do you think?

FRANKOPAN: Well, I guess it's probably, we'll start with, why did we forget about the natural world? You know, I think before the enlightenment,

biblical texts, every religion thinks about human relationship with the natural world, whether that's to do with animals, with food, with plants,

with water, with drought and famine, floods, and I think that we sort of allowed ourselves to think that we could beat everything with innovation,

with science and with money. And so, some of that question, I think today, is why we've gone through so many red traffic lights.

So, you know, we're now 35 years on from James Hansen giving his warning in 1988 that we had to really deal with a changing natural environment around

us and particularly with global warming. And when we go back through all the different accords in Paris and Rio, et cetera, it all feels like open

goals that we've kept on missing.

So, some of that, I think, is what we try to do with this podcast is you start by educating. So, when you listen to our four episodes about Picasso

or, you know, you learn a lot more -- I mean, I -- it's been such an education for me to spend much more time thinking about Cecil Rhodes and

his life I never thought I would want to do. But then, you sort of -- the more you can ingest, the more you can learn, the more nuanced your answers

are going to be.

So, I think with the natural world, it's how do we find ourselves at this place where scientists are talking about biodiversity, collapse and

existential problems for us as a species, how can that suddenly be our world in 2024 and how do we miss all the warning signals before?

AMANPOUR: And your most recent book, "Decolonising My Body," comes after British, where you're essentially exploring your own history and what you

want to tell your daughter. So, tell me what inspired you to write that. Again, it is about legacy. It's about how you were raised to think about

your body, yourself as a middle-class English person versus what families and communities are going through in one of the countries of your birth,


HIRSCH: Actually, listening to Peter speak about his book, they're so closely related because one of the things that's happened to the world is

the destruction and erasure of so many indigenous knowledge systems, and that's been catastrophic for the climate because indigenous cultures

understood living in harmony, avoiding excessive accumulation, understanding we are part of the natural world.

But also, for somebody like me with African heritage, it had a very deep psychological effect because I was growing up in a world that told me that

my African indigenous history was savage, was backward, that becoming more European and colonized was progress. And that legacy is so powerful.

Britain couldn't have maintained its empire through military might. It relied on programming and brainwashing colonial subjects into believing

that being British, being Christian, being European, being capitalist was better.


And we're so far from having unpicked that brainwashing and being able to see objectively the choices that we've made as cultures and communities. I

think the climate crisis is one of the ways we're waking up to the fact that many of those choices were bad, were catastrophic.

And for me, it's also about being a woman, being a woman in the public eye, getting older and realizing I come from a culture that celebrates aging and

women, that regards it as incredible success, becoming more beautiful, having more status.


HIRSCH: Wisdom, power, use in the community. And actually, I live in a society that tells me that aging is bad, that you become less desirable,

less attractive, less useful. And when I really realized that I kind of had a choice, which of these mindsets I would embody as I grow older, it was a

complete no brainer. I thought, would I choose the culture that tells me I'm useless and unattractive or the one that celebrates me?


HIRSCH: And so, that really helps accelerate my journey, and that's what I write about really honestly in the book.

AMANPOUR: Yes, yes, yes. What are some of the other characters who you're looking at, your favorites, for instance? I mentioned Nina Simone and

Picasso, have you done those already?

FRANKOPAN: We're recording them just next week.


FRANKOPAN: But then, Gorbachev as well.


FRANKOPAN: Again, you know here in the West is a hero. We see him as the man who helped bring down the Soviet Union rather than how he's seen in

Russia, let alone in China, as the man who destroyed everything. And, you know, Gorbachev was trying to save communism, not to open it up.

So, we've had a lot of discussions. I mean, it's one of the fun bits than sitting with Afua and going through our list of who we'd like to do in the

future. And people like Kissinger. You know, the list is enormous through to religious figures back to -- and, you know, what Afua says is really

important that we can't just focus on men from Europe. It's about how do we make that world more diverse?

And, you know, these episodes we do, there are four in each series. So, there are -- there's a lot of information, a lot of learning. But we've

been kicking around quite a few ideas about who comes next. But I've got -- we've got quite a long list.

HIRSCH: And I really enjoyed Picasso, who we have recorded.


HIRSCH: And that goes to the bigger question of art and whether if an artist is very problematic --


HIRSCH: -- we should stop enjoying their work.

AMANPOUR: People have to tune in to "Legacy" for those episodes. Afua Hirsch, Peter Frankopan, thank you so much.

HIRSCH: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And next, Rhiannon Giddens is currently carving out her own impressive legacy. She's the singer, songwriter, banjo player, fiddler, and

actress who keeps adding strings to her bow. "You're the One" is her latest release and her first full album of original songs. She won the Pulitzer

Prize in music for her opera "Omar," and she's been on a global tour with Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road ensemble. Now, she's joining Walter Isaacson to

discuss her unstoppable career.


WALTER ISAACSON, CO-HOST, AMANPOUR AND CO.: Thank you. And, Rhiannon Giddens, welcome to the show.


ISAACSON: You just released "You're the One" this past summer. It's your first album of all original songs, and it is sort of called an Americana

type music album. Why was it important for you to do this now?

GIDDENS: Well, I think that I had all these songs that I'd written and had been kind of waiting for the time, and I had been doing a lot of pretty

heavy work over the last, you know, I'd say 10 years, very culturally, you know, relevant work, historically complicated work, and I just -- I kind of

needed a moment to just kind of let loose and have some fun and also still represent, you know, a different side of myself as an artist, because, you

know, as soon as you start doing exactly the same stuff time and time again, you kind of start to lose. -- I don't know, you just -- it's

important as artists, I think, to explore all the different sides of who we are because it strengthens then the other side that I had been doing, you

know, at least that's that was the thought.

ISAACSON: Well, you just talked about the historically complicated work you've been doing. And we talked about that a few years ago, your

researches, everything into the banjo and into how music gets made. Explain to people what you've been doing recently on this historically complicated


GIDDENS: Well, recently my two sort of biggest projects in that, one was an opera or is an opera called "Omar." That was -- that's about the story

of a Senegalese Quranic scholar who was stolen at the age of 37 and sold into slavery and died an enslaved man at -- you know, over 50 years in

North Carolina, which is my home state.

And the other big project that I've been working on, especially in the last couple years, is the American Railroad Project with Silk Road Ensemble,

kind of trans cultural ensemble started by Yo-Yo Ma over, gosh, 20 something years ago now, and those were -- you know, those have been a lot

of time thinking about some pretty dark stuff, you know.

ISAACSON: I was surprised to read about this opera because, boy, it's complicated. And I realized that you had studied opera so much and that

it's an important part of your background. People are kind of intimidated by opera. Tell me how you decided to go down that road and why that opera

was so important.


GIDDENS: Well, it's really interesting because like, yes, I started as an opera singer, but I came to classical music pretty late.

I didn't know how to read music. I went to conservatory because I was just like, oh, I'd heard the singing. It was like, it's so cool. They sing all

the time. And it's all this drama. And it was pretty -- you know, it was a steep learning curve, but I fell in love with the art form as an adult.

And then, of course, I got a degree and I did a lot of opera and I loved opera, but I was kind of wondering, you know, what was my role in this

world to do an opera? I wasn't sure opera was it. So, that's when I found the banjo and kind of -- you know, that took me down roads that have now,

you know, been a part of my life for a long time.

I didn't expect to come back to opera, but when Spoleto -- the Spoleto Festival approached me about doing an opera about Omar, I kind of went,

well, this is amazing because this is a story that's so important and an art form that is stigmatized, you know, and sort of put into this, you

know, kind of classic or class warfare thing, you know, like only, you know, these kind of people enjoy opera, only these kind of people do opera

And that's such a -- you know, that's such a false notion. You know, opera is really should be for everyone. It started out as something that was for

everyone is just a music drama.

And because our pop music is so different, it's so far away from our classical music right now, it's harder for people to kind of have a door

into opera sometimes. So, we really need stories that are relevant to people.

ISAACSON: So, you did something that was very culturally relevant and brought it to opera. But tie that back to the album, "You're the One," that

you released this year.


ISAACSON: You were Grammy nominated in the Americana music category. So, explain what is the Americana music category and how are you trying to

reshape it?

GIDDENS: Well, I think it's -- the problem with genres is that they stay the same while the music changes, right? And music is always changing and

it's always like turning from this into that. And American music particularly, because of all the different influences that have gone into

it, it really especially does that where, you know, music is a moving target. You can't ever -- you can't step in the same river twice, right?

So, that -- as the genres, you know, sort of ossify, we keep moving. So, we have to keep inventing more and more genres to sort of, you know,

represent. And so, this -- it's an attempt to really celebrate the -- all of the influences that go into American music and to say, you know,

Americana is not one thing, it's all four things, you know that make American music, you know, so unique. So, that's the way I look at it, you


So, it's always an honor to be nominated and to be in the Americana category with so many other incredible artists. I'm just like -- you know,

I don't feel like anybody loses because it's such a wonderful representation of what's going on in the music world. It's not always in

the bright light of the mainstream eye, if you know what I mean.

ISAACSON: Well, you helped define the Americana category by your performances and your music. But you've also informed it by your historical

studies, especially on the role of the banjo and other acoustical instruments from way back. Tell me how your historical studies help inform

the songs you did on this album, "You're the One."

GIDDENS: For me, it's -- this record, in particular, is not -- and nothing's ever detached from the historical -- my historical record, it's

always kind of infused in the music. So, even just creating a tune, a song like "Louisiana Man," that's -- that is, you know, the centerpiece of it is

the banjo, the center of it is the banjo. I wrote it on the banjo. And my particular banjo is a replica of a banjo from 1858 and it's, you know, a

banjo that's at the crossroads between Africa and Europe. You know, the banjo being invented by African the African diaspora, particularly in the

Caribbean, and before it moved up into North America and became known as the symbol of black people for a long time.

And then, in the 1840s and '50s, it starts to make that transition to mainstream culture and European American culture. And the banjo that I have

sits at the crossroads of that. So, even just a song that's created around that is imbued with history, even though it's a song about, you know, a bad

man who wasn't a very nice person and left this -- you know, the singer behind and she has to kind of like, you know, strive on. So, this record is

a little subtler.

The only song on the record that's really specifically tied to a historical event is "Another Wasted Life" and it's a very recent event about Kalief

Browder who was put into prison for a crime he didn't commit and was put into solitary confinement.


And when he was released, he committed suicide. And the whole -- what that represents about the whole carceral system, you know, really struck me in a

very forceful way, and I wrote "Another Wasted Life" based on that. So, that's -- that is a really more recent bit of history than what I usually

do in my music, but it felt like a very important song to write. And this collection, it felt like it was important to make sure that it was living

in other songs that could, you know, surround it.

ISAACSON: How did the song about Kalief get you more involved in the criminal justice movement?

GIDDENS: Well, I wanted to use that song to raise awareness. You know, because whenever I tell that story, people are always like, oh, my gosh,

and I'm like, yes, and there's like so many others like him who are sitting in prison for something they didn't do because they got caught up, because

they were fingered, you know, because the system is so, in a lot of ways, focused on closing cases, and it's not to say that there's not a lot of

good work done, there's also a lot of work that is not serving us, you know, and it's not serving these people who are stuck behind bars.

And I think that that is an important -- it's a really important thing to tell people about because I don't think they realize how many numbers of

people are waiting to, you know -- for a lawyer to come represent them or for their case to wind its way through a year's long, you know, appeal

system or whatever.

And so, there's a really. wonderful group of organizations under the Innocence Project, and there are different ones in different states, and

they're dedicated to helping these people. And so, it was kind of a no- brainer to use "Another Waste of Life" to connect with those organizations, particularly the one that we connected with was the Pennsylvania Innocence

Project, and I made a video with us about 22 guys who had been exonerated by -- in the system and wanted to represent, you know, in order to raise

funds, to raise awareness for the guys who are still behind bars.


GIDDENS: That's been a really amazing and meaningful collaboration for me. I -- it kind of made the -- a whole album alive for me because that's

really what I'm here to do, I feel like, is to use my art to try to raise awareness of, you know, things that we really need to fix in our society.

ISAACSON: You said your album has been inspired by some of the great female singers of our time. Obviously, Aretha also Nina Simone, I think

Dolly Parton. What did you take from them?

GIDDENS: I took like bits and pieces from every -- all of them lived their -- in some cases live, like Dolly's still around, but, you know, dedicated

to living their lives the way that they wanted to live their lives, and, you know, for good and for bad, like, at times, and I just -- that's

something that I draw a lot of inspiration from, you know.

And also, just the sheer talent, you know, it's the sheer talent of somebody like Aretha Franklin where she just opens her mouth and you're

just like, oh, my gosh. But she also just would not be herself, like she was herself -- I mean, at least as far as I know, I didn't know her

personally. I only met her one time. But she just like, lived her life, you know, and like, put this incredible art out and just lived her life.

And I don't know, I just am inspired by all of those ladies and I can only hope to live, you know, a fraction of the truth that they lived, you know.

ISAACSON: You address some of that with the song "Hen in the Foxhouse," you know, what it's like to be a woman in this world of music.


ISAACSON: Tie it into that, if you would.

GIDDENS: Yes. I mean, "Hen in the Foxhouse" obviously it's playing on words, which I love to do. And, you know, that's the earliest song on the

record, because they're written over a selection of years. So, that's earlier.

I mean, of course, things have gotten a lot better. It's still -- you know, it's still pretty man heavy in the music world, but it has gotten a lot

better, which is really great. But at that point I was -- you know, I was feeling some things and I was just thinking about like how I was often the

only woman in the room kind of over and over and over again. And just kind of wrote that piece as a way to say like, look, you know, we have to do

this thing.


I was talking to other women who, like, were band leaders and, you know, the -- just the frustrations that could come along with that. And, you

know, it's like, I'm not the only hen in the foxhouse, like, there's many of us.

And so, you know, the idea is that we kind of pull -- we pull strengths from each other when we're in those situations, even if we're not there in

the room with each other, we know that they're -- you know, we know each other is there in the world. And so, we have this community and that keeps

us strong.

ISAACSON: I think the only song on the album that's a collaboration is with Jason Isbell, right? And it's "Yet to Be," and it involves a

relationship between a black and an Irish person.


ISAACSON: That's sort of drawn from your experience. Tell me about that.

GIDDENS: Well, it's funny. It's like you could say that, but it's also I'm just thinking really more historically, you know, since, of course, I met -

- married an Irish man and that's what -- it is a part of my history, but I've been drawn to knowing more about that history in America, you know,

and the interaction between black folks and Irish folks. And whereas, there's a lot of points of contention and violence, you know, with those

groups of people.

There are also countless, you know, acts and stories of black people and Irish people making music together and dancing together and making babies

together, because that's kind of what we do, right? We come together and we create new things, whether that's music or children.

And there was so many, you know, moments of that in American history that we don't talk about, that we don't really -- you know, we'll talk about the

draft riots, but we don't talk about the countless, you know, families living in Five Point that were mixed, you know, or whatever, and I'm a

mixed person. So, it's really a song about that.

It was a moment of kind of unusual optimism for me of just thinking about what can we celebrate that -- you know, like thinking about my parents when

they got married, it was like three years after it was like federally recognized as a legal thing. You know, that's insane.

You know, I'm like 45 years old and I can, you know -- like my parents' generation, you know, in a lot of places it was illegal, you know. So,

thinking about how far we have come and thinking about how we can't take that for granted. And so, that's a song that really celebrates the beauty

of that and how we cannot lose, you know, what it means to come together and to see each other as human beings and not as a color or a creed or a


ISAACSON: Yes. So, you sing about people coming together, not as a color or a creed, people coming together from different backgrounds as part of

that song. To what extent is that true of American music, if that's how it is formed?

GIDDENS: That is literally American music. It is -- I mean, and we can't forget class here, because for me, that's the thing that we don't talk

about enough. That American music was formed and created by people from all different cultures. And some have more outsized effect than others, like

African Americans have a huge, you know, effect on American music, but they're not the only ones.

And so, there is this combination of people living cheek by jowl, you know, trading licks, like, learning from each other, and these genres that come

out of this cultural exchange, but it's also all poor people, you know, it's people of the working class, people who are trying to make a living

and trying to do the best they can, and they're bringing their music into the mix. And like there's a certain energy that goes into that and all the

who are kind of like scrabbling together, you know. And it's -- I'm not romanticizing it, because they fought a lot too. But ultimately, the music

kind of wins out.

And when you look at the history of any kind of music in America, there -- that is at the heart of it, you know. And that is for me, the center of

what I like to tell about this story is that American music is a story of triumph, really, it's a story of, you know, this country that it -- that

was born out of bloodshed and so many terrible things, you know, as a nation state, but underneath that, there's all this cultural mixing that's

going from also tragedy from -- you know, people coming over because they've been run off or they have no other options or whatever. And out of

all this negativity and ugliness, there is this beauty that's born of all of that.

And I'm like, we can't lose hope. Like, you know, we have to kind of like look at that and go, isn't that beautiful? We can do it in here -- we can

do it with music, why can't we do it elsewhere?

ISAACSON: Rhiannon Giddens, thanks for joining us.

GIDDENS: It's been a pleasure.



AMANPOUR: And that is it for now. Tune in tomorrow for my conversation with the American rock star Lenny Kravitz about his impressive music career

and his latest original song making the Oscar shortlist, "Road to Freedom" from the Netflix film "Rustin."

And if you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. Remember, you can always catch us online, on

our website and all-over social media.

Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.