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The Black History of the Banjo

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Photo: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Wikimedia Commons

Broadcast: Janaury 30, 2022 at 4:00 p.m.

This episode traces the history of this most American of instruments from its ancestors in West Africa through the Caribbean and American South and into the present, as a new generation of Black women artists reclaim the banjo as their own.

Rhiannon Giddens, Bassekou Kouyate, Bela Fleck and more talk claw-hammers, trad jazz, Appalachian folk, African ancestors and the on-going story of American music, which would be woefully incomplete without a Black history of the banjo.

Produced by Ben Richmond.

Listen to this episode: Click here.