Béla Fleck is one of the greatest living banjo players in the world. He’s followed what many experience as this quintessential American roots instrument back to its roots in Africa, and he’s taken it where no banjo has gone before. Abigail Washburn is a celebrated banjo player and singer, both in English and Chinese. These two are partners in music and in life — recovering something ancient and deeply American all at once, bringing both beauty and meaning to what they play and how they live.
Béla Fleck has recorded over 40 albums, most famously with The Flecktones and New Grass Revival. His albums include Flight of the Cosmic Hippo, UFO Tofu, and Rocket Science. His first full album collaboration with Abigail Washburn, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, was awarded the 2016 Grammy for Best Folk Album. Their most recent album is Echo in the Valley.
Abigail Washburn is a clawhammer banjo player and singer. Her albums include Song of the Traveling Daughter, City of Refuge, and The Sparrow Quartet EP. She is a Carolina Performing Arts DisTil Fellow, former TED Fellow, and was the first U.S.-China Fellow at Vanderbilt University.
This interview is edited and produced with music and other features in the On Being episode “Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn — Truth, Beauty, Banjo.” Find more at onbeing.org.
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