It was a summer camp that cemented Rhiannon Giddens' career path. The singer and songwriter — a Grammy nominee and MacArthur "Genius Grant" winner known both as a solo artist and for her work with the quartet Our Native Daughters — shares in a new audiobook from Audible's Words + Music series how an experience the summer before her senior year of high school led her to music as a chosen profession.

As Giddens narrates in To Balance on Bridges, her parents "always provided a safe space for [music] to just exist" in her life, but never let either Giddens or her sister to enter talent shows or otherwise "commercialize" their blossoming talents. Indeed, Giddens shares, music was a passion, but a hobby: She attended "nerd schools" focused on math, science and other academic pursuits.

Still, Giddens sang in a youth choir during middle school, and "jumped" at the opportunity to attend that summer camp focused on chorale singing. (During the narration, she deadpans, "I told you I was a nerd.") And, she recalls, "When I got there, I realized I had found my people."

"I found out," she adds, "that I wanted to sing for a living."

The next step? Applying to colleges with music programs. Press play below to hear Giddens tell the rest of the story, in a clip that's premiering exclusively on The Boot:

Giddens' full Words + Music audiobook is available in full beginning on Thursday (July 22). Throughout, the singer and songwriter "examines the multitude of influences and identities that have led her to a life 'nestled in the nexus' — defined and further made whole by the sum of her parts," a summary shares. Via both stories and songs (or, one might say, words and music), Giddens shares her personal experiences and those she shares with others.

"To Balance on Bridges finds Giddens in continued pursuit of truth in all its raw and underexposed forms," the summary explains. "Performing tracks from several of her acclaimed albums, Giddens leads listeners through a multitude of musical styles, lyrical patterns and instrumentation confronting questions on race, culture, appropriation and class with searing precision."

Audible's Words + Music series also includes Audible Originals from Sheryl Crow, T Bone Burnett, Steve Earle and James Taylor, among others. All of them are available via Audible.

Rhiannon Giddens Words and Music

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