African Roots of the Banjo
The roots of the banjo trace directly to West Africa. White Southerners learned to play early gourd banjos, probably built from the enslaved Africans' memories. The banjo was popularized in the 19th century by minstrel shows. Though it seemed close to disappearing in the late 20th century, the African-American banjo tradition has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, led by such young artists as Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, Jerron Paxton, and Amythyst Kiah.
The “Down the Road on the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina” podcast highlights bluegrass and old-time music stories, performers, and traditions across the mountain and foothills counties of Western North Carolina. Hosted by Laura Boosinger and produced by Kim Clark of WNCW-FM, the podcast is a joint effort of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, the North Carolina Arts Council, WNCW-FM, and the American roots music journal No Depression.