I don’t play from a colonized approach. You can hardly get more connected to the land than that. He lives in Hong Kong. In an email conversation, he said, “What the BBRP is doing is actively reclaiming this co-opted, appropriated object and trying to re-root an extinguished tradition in the African American community.”. Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, sustainability projects, educational outreach, and more. It’s been a persistent trend throughout the popular music industry for decades.”. And if the day ever comes when you’ve grown tired of your gourd banjo, no problem: it’s almost entirely biodegradable. Email powered by MailChimp (Privacy Policy, Terms of Use). North American Indigenous Flute vs. “Native American Flute”: A ...>, In the Days of Peony Flowers: A Contemporary Reflection on Chinese>, Kulning: The Swedish Herding Calls of the North, A Choral Reckoning with the Imperfect History of the United States, Ashley Minner, Reclaiming Space for the Lumbee Indians of Baltimore, The Folkloric Roots of the QAnon Conspiracy, Restoring a National Treasure, Stone by Stone. Bonnie Raitt. The 2020 Banjo Gathering will be held virtually! Of all the melodic musical instruments in the world, perhaps none is more connected to the land it comes from than the banjo. The Black Banjo Reclamation Project is a vehicle to return instruments of African origin to the descendants of their original makers. No one is suggesting that the banjo and its means of manufacture, along with the music played on it, ought to be immune to evolution and adaptation. All proceeds from “Give It Time” will go towards the Black Banjo Reclamation Project, a vehicle to return instruments of African origin to the descendants of their original makers. The difference is one of cultural ownership and general acknowledgement, of giving credit where it’s due—especially when credit is long overdue to a historically oppressed people. “All of us are farmers, and all of us are herbalists, and we work with plants and food sovereignty, increasing our ability to have self-determination through plants and through the earth and through natural things. Then the BBRP addresses the bigger objective to retake possession of the narrative and tell the story of the banjo from the Black perspective. That fact of provenance alone puts any conversation about the history of the banjo inside the larger conversation about American history, and slavery in particular. We delve into the complex lives of individuals and communities to find what inspires and motivates people as they respond to animating questions at the center of contemporary life. In recent decades, scholars and master musicians such as Daniel Laemouahuma Jatta have kept alive the traditions of these instruments, which ethnomusicologists worldwide are finally recognizing as living ancestors of the banjo. The 10-year-old teamed up with musician Hannah Mayree, co-founder of the Black Banjo Reclamation Project, and the two met every week online to work on their song. The vibrations are warmer, it’s a little more rooted, and it sounds a lot earthier.”. It’s the indelible link to the continent of Africa, the geographic and cultural origin of that range of instruments which have evolved into the modern banjo. Workshop participants learn fine woodworking skills with a combination of hand and power tools as they build their own banjos from scratch. Deep Fried Pickle Project (Family, Jug Band) is a delectable musical treat. The story of the banjo goes back centuries, to West Africa, where folk lute instruments like the Senegambian akonting have long been in use. Along the way, its connection to Black heritage was effectively erased. All musical instruments are subject to change: today’s Fender Stratocaster, for example, bears little resemblance, visually or sonically, to a C.F. She is also the founder of the Black Banjo Reclamation Project, a vehicle to return instruments of African origin to the descendants of their original makers. this is a wheelchair accessible event. It does this in two connected ways: by producing most of the components and by teaching banjo-building skills in community workshops. The inspiration [for the BBRP] is the earth, really, because that’s where the instruments are coming from.”. An initial 30 minute trial lesson is half-price. One day, Mayree hopes to complete the loop and connect with Daniel Jatta and other major figures in West African music and ethnomusicology. Through our extensive network across the country, our work promotes conversation and action in healing the ancestral, historical, cultural and racially dividing wounds in this country and the world. The banjo has been on a diasporic journey the same way that many of us and our bloodlines have been. It does this in two connected ways: by producing most of the components and by teaching banjo-building skills in community workshops. That kind of music is best played on a gourd banjo—if you can find one. Playing a fretless gourd banjo has given me a deeper sense of connection to the instrument. Being connected to the land also has a more immediate meaning, referring to the arable earth beneath our feet. Hannah Mayree representing the Black Banjo Reclamation Project – Talk – Banjo History and Culture: 8:30: Kilborn Alley – Performance: 9:00: Jake Blount – Performance: 9:30: Kyshona Armstrong – Performance: 9:50: Hot Club of Cowtown – Performance The folks in question aren’t just in the Bay Area anymore. As a result, regardless of the style, most banjo music today is played on factory-made fretted instruments—or, for the lucky few, on banjos crafted by high-end luthiers commanding thousands of dollars. The mellow, earthy tones should come as no surprise. The Black Banjo Reclamation Project is a vehicle to return instruments of African origin to the descendants of their original makers. Led by teaching artist Tiffany Golden, the students in Song & Story Camp wrote original songs that were composed and recorded by their musicians.These songs represent the world we are living in today. “Everyone that’s part of this project is offering something that is furthering our healing as a community,” Mayree said. Check out and support these Black traditional musicians: Black Banjo Reclamation Project, Rhiannon Giddens, Our Native Daughters, Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons, and Jake Blount. With proper care, that seed will grow into a gourd, which may be harvested in 180 days. Doobie Decibel System Duo. But even a basic, serviceable banjo costs several hundred dollars, a significant expense for many working musicians, putting the more expensive professional-grade instruments well beyond reach. Black Banjo Reclamation Project. Photo by Avé-Ameenah Long. Finances are uncertain for many right now, so I’m open to negotiating a rate that work with your budget or means. The Black Banjo Reclamation Project is in the process of expanding their reach by working with partners in the Caribbean as well as Black farmers in Virginia and Alabama. In the mid-1800s, minstrel shows were a popular form of entertainment, where White performers in blackface played banjos and sang and danced in a caricature of Black music and culture. He claims the banjo he built for himself at a BBRP workshop is the nicest one he’s ever owned. After the gourd has been left for about a year to harden and cure, the banjo-building process can begin. The Black Banjo Reclamation Project is a cultural and land- based revival project that centers the Black community by reclaiming ancestral wisdom and moving forward with innovations through prospectives of Afro-futurism. Thus began the banjo’s trail of evolution in America. Rachel Baiman weaves that kind of lesson into her children’s music camp in Chicago. Honor Black History Month with a dive into the history and legacy of Black farming in the United States and globally. Gourd banjos are not often heard in American music today, if only because they’re relatively hard to come by. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Hannah Mayree, founder of the Black Banjo Reclamation Project, quite a bit about her unprecedented campaign to put banjos back into the hands of Black people. Join our mailing list and help us with a tax-deductible donation today. %5 of all lesson proceeds go toward the Black Banjo Reclamation Project. The Black Banjo Reclamation Project is a vehicle to return instruments of African origin to the descendants of their original makers. “Music, like food and language, is a fluid culture, and folk music picks up all kinds of influences as it moves through time and different communities,” she said via email. But the modern banjo, according to Mayree, is a demonstration of how far it has become separated from its roots. Bo & Lebo. Either way, the context is almost always White, because for hundreds of years the story of the banjo has been told from an exclusively White point of view. In his Baltimore workshop, Ross creates historical recreations of gourd banjos as well as wood-rimmed minstrel-era instruments. Enslaved Africans then fashioned variations on those instruments in the fields of the Mississippi Delta and elsewhere. Gardening, tanning, and woodworking with hand and power tools are all skills applied in building a banjo. By the early twentieth century, the mass-produced banjo had become a symbol of White supremacist culture—so much so that in later decades people sometimes had difficulty accepting the fact of its African origins. A banjoist, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Hannah shares harmonies through acoustic live vocal looping and reminds us of the empowerment found in our relationship to the earth, music and community. The average American, if asked to conjure an image of a banjo, would likely picture the modern version of the instrument. Hannah Mayree And The Black Banjo Reclamation Project by Alexis Goldsmith in Art, Culture & Entertainment , Hudson Mohawk Magazine , Social Justice & Activism on 11.11.2019 Musician Hannah Mayree sat down with WOOC producer Melissa Bromley to play a tune, discuss what drives her, and tell us about The Black Banjo Reclamation Project. One solution for lowering the price of entry is to make a banjo of your own. In the spirit of inclusivity, we respect the wishes of our collaborators in capitalizing—or not—racial, ethnic, and cultural terms. A recent pre-COVID pilgrimage to the Mississippi Delta inspired this story. At Smithsonian Folklife, we include many perspectives as we build cultural understanding. “Correcting the history of the banjo and making it clear that this instrument, so central to American cultural history that so many White people have their personal identities wrapped up in, is in fact African American, forces a shift in understanding the country’s history as well as personal cultural identifications,” Ross claimed. Owning a banjo (or an equally popular fiddle) soon became all the rage in households across the country. Tune in every other Tuesday beginning November 24 as we continue our musical journey at 8PM ET / 5Pm PT. In addition to offering opportunities for practicing musicians to create their own tools of the trade, the BBRP provides space for families or anyone in the local community to learn useful land-based skills. To meet demand, production became mechanized, and the banjo quickly lost all connection to the earth. Most Popular. This summer, Chapter 510 & the Dept. See” Dorsey, known on stages across the U.S. as Seemore Love is an Alkebulan-American mystic, multi-genre, multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, singer/songwriter. Black Banjo Reclamation Project founders Hannah Mayree and Carlton “Seemore Love” Dorsey, with banjos made by Brooks Masten of Brooks Banjos in Portland, Oregon. The Black Banjo Reclamation Project considers the ideology of self-determination and functions “through perspectives of Afro-futurism,” a philosophy shaped by black musicians, artists, scholars and innovators who aim to construct how the future could look. Films include Forgotten Farmers: African-American Land Loss, The Young Black Farmers Defying a Legacy of Discrimination, and broadcast journalist Edward R Murrow’s 1960 documentary Harvest of Shame.You’ll also enjoy music by the Black Banjo Reclamation Project plus … Martin parlor guitar of even a century ago. The Black Banjo Reclamation Project, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, aims to put banjos into the hands of everyday people. Join us as we “Let the Music Play On & On” through the holidays and into the New Year with deeper cuts, archival footage and interviews from the artists you enjoyed in our broadcast. Paul Ruta is a writer, stringed instrument junkie, and curator of @guitarsofcanada on Instagram. In solidarity, Maggie It takes two people to stretch an animal skin tightly over the opening in the banjo’s gourd body. of Make Believe paired 9 elementary school students with 9 Oakland musicians. Carrie Rodriguez. We thank you for your support! This project is putting banjos back in the hands and the laps of the people who should be learning how to play them. Those African instruments never made the journey on slave ships bound for the Americas, but the technology for building them was carried in the heads of the passengers along with their memories of the music. 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