“And we definitely focus on the community that we serve in terms of Black folks.”. Quite literally, every main component of a gourd banjo—one that’s built in the manner of its African precursors—arises from the land. 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. 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.”. In solidarity, Maggie Deep Fried Pickle Project – Family Performance: 11:40: Seemore Love representing the Black Banjo Reclamation Project – Talk – Banjo History and Culture: 12:05: Milly Raccoon – Performance: 12:30: Ayla McDonald – Performance: 12:55: Candy Foster Interview – Talk: 1:20: Jean Rene Balekita and Laeticia Kyungu – Performance: 1:45 A vision of banjos coming from the earth may take a number of twenty-first-century people by surprise. 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. The 2020 Banjo Gathering will be held virtually! Email powered by MailChimp (Privacy Policy, Terms of Use). One way to give the story of the banjo a fresh start is to tell it to kids. 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 … It’s a beautiful-looking instrument and is robust enough to compose, record, and gig with. 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. This journey of musical and cultural rediscovery begins by simply planting a seed in the ground. And local organizations Don't Shoot PDX, Black Resilience Fund, and Unite Oregon, Wa Na Wari (Seattle). 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. 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. In fact, she calls it “part of the colonization of the instrument.”, Veteran banjo builder Pete Ross agrees. He lives in Hong Kong. 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. My teaching rate is $50/hour, payable by Venmo or PayPal. In addition to well-known names such as Emmylou Harris, Rhiannon Giddens, Yola, and Buddy Miller, we’ll be treated to the Black Banjo Reclamation Project, Sierra Ferrell, and some exciting duos I like a lot: Jon Langford & Sally Timms, Kieran Kane & Rayna Gellert, Laurie Lewis & Nina Gerber, and The War and Treaty, among others. All musical instruments are subject to change: today’s Fender Stratocaster, for example, bears little resemblance, visually or sonically, to a C.F. Gourd banjos are not often heard in American music today, if only because they’re relatively hard to come by. 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. 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 strings are nylon—the modern version of traditional “catgut” strings made from sheep or goat intestines. Paul Ruta is a writer, stringed instrument junkie, and curator of @guitarsofcanada on Instagram. Few banjo makers produce them on a commercial scale. It’s providing lesson space, facilities, teaching, and teachers, and the instruments themselves, to … 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. Bo & Lebo. 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. 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. 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. But the modern banjo, according to Mayree, is a demonstration of how far it has become separated from its roots. The inspiration [for the BBRP] is the earth, really, because that’s where the instruments are coming from.”. 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. Like most gourd banjos, Love’s has a wooden neck, wooden bridge, and wooden friction-style tuning pegs. At Smithsonian Folklife, we include many perspectives as we build cultural understanding. The Black Banjo Reclamation Project hosts workshops so people can learn to build their own gourd banjos. Along with their efforts to help African Americans reclaim the right to the narrative, the Black Banjo Reclamation Project also gives people the opportunity to return to the music itself, to explore their own spirituality and artistic voices, and to learn how to play through online lessons. The “land” here refers to two things. “Everyone that’s part of this project is offering something that is furthering our healing as a community,” Mayree said. Carlton “Dr. Seemore Love uniquely blends the past sounds of Folk from around the world with the present age of technology, and the spiritual aim of Afro-Futurism to create a truly sincere and one-of-a-kind sound appropriate for all ages and heart spaces. Let's take action in support of Black lives! 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. Being connected to the land also has a more immediate meaning, referring to the arable earth beneath our feet. “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. It’s been a persistent trend throughout the popular music industry for decades.”. 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. One solution for lowering the price of entry is to make a banjo of your own. So I think that’s a big part of the inspiration, as well as our ancestors, knowing that this has been happening for so many generations through from the Continent to Turtle Island to everywhere that we are.”. It would be a factory-made object with a round wooden or metal body, with a synthetic, drum-like membrane stretched taut across the body, and four or five metal strings spanning a fretted neck. 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. 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. Most Popular. In other words, people would tend to picture the good old bluegrass banjo, or the kind of instrument made popular by Pete Seeger and other singers and folklorists of the sixties. “I’m an African in America. Hannah Mayree is a creative facilitator and musician who’s work and art lends itself as a tool for redesigning and reconnecting to our roots as humans on this planet. And if the day ever comes when you’ve grown tired of your gourd banjo, no problem: it’s almost entirely biodegradable. Workshop participants learn how to shape the neck joint of a gourd banjo with chisels and other hand tools. 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. The familiar bluegrass-style banjo is indeed a twentieth-century American creation, a defining characteristic of the bluegrass and country music which evolved along with it. 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. %5 of all lesson proceeds go toward the Black Banjo Reclamation Project. of Make Believe paired 9 elementary school students with 9 Oakland musicians. Owning a banjo (or an equally popular fiddle) soon became all the rage in households across the country. 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. That kind of music is best played on a gourd banjo—if you can find one. The banjo has been on a diasporic journey the same way that many of us and our bloodlines have been. Report: Gavin Newsom's team 'increasingly concerned' about recall efforts Bonnie Raitt. In an interview via Zoom she said, “We want to inspire everyone to reach back to who their ancestors were, and who we are now, and how we can honor that and bring integrity back into what we’re doing with music. The vibrations are warmer, it’s a little more rooted, and it sounds a lot earthier.”. 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. Photo by Avé-Ameenah Long. Proceeds from this release will go toward the Black Banjo Reclamation Project, a vehicle to return instruments of African origin to the descendants of their original makers. We thank you for your support! It does this in two connected ways: by producing most of the components and by teaching banjo-building skills in community workshops. 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. The Black Banjo Reclamation Project, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, aims to put banjos into the hands of everyday people. Hannah Mayree is the founder of the Black Banjo Reclamation Project and an Oakland, California-based singer-songwriter and banjo player. “This organization at its core is a land-based project,” she added. In his Baltimore workshop, Ross creates historical recreations of gourd banjos as well as wood-rimmed minstrel-era instruments. A Nashville-based singer, songwriter, and banjoist, she also teaches about the origins of musical instruments and music. Black Banjo Reclamation Project Jon Langford and Sally Timms Los Coast. 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 … We decolonize our relationship to creativity from an afro-centric perspective, working to connect people with their … I don’t play from a colonized approach. Jon Langford & … Band. 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. Along the way, its connection to Black heritage was effectively erased. 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 It takes two people to stretch an animal skin tightly over the opening in the banjo’s gourd body. Playing a fretless gourd banjo has given me a deeper sense of connection to the instrument. After the gourd has been left for about a year to harden and cure, the banjo-building process can begin. All ages will have age appropriate activities. You can hardly get more connected to the land than that. Doobie Decibel System Duo. Of all the melodic musical instruments in the world, perhaps none is more connected to the land it comes from than the banjo. An initial 30 minute trial lesson is half-price. Editor’s note: Culture is a process of creating, communicating, and contesting values and meanings, a process where something as seemingly small as a lowercase or uppercase letter can convey significant nuances. 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. We tell unforgettable stories about people, ideas, and a wide array of arts and traditions that help us explore where we have come from and where we are going. This summer, Chapter 510 & the Dept. Join our mailing list and help us with a tax-deductible donation today. “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. 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