Well of Souls
Uncovering the Banjo's Hidden History
by Kristina R. Gaddy
Narrated by Chanté McCormick
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Pub Date 04 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 11 Oct 2022
In an extraordinary story unfolding across two hundred years, Kristina Gaddy uncovers the banjo's key role in Black spirituality, ritual, and rebellion. Through meticulous research in diaries, letters, archives, and art, she traces the banjo's beginnings from the seventeenth century, when enslaved people of African descent created it from gourds or calabashes and wood. Gaddy shows how the enslaved carried this unique instrument as they were transported and sold by slaveowners throughout the Americas, to Suriname, the Caribbean, and the colonies that became US states, including Louisiana, South Carolina, Maryland, and New York.
African Americans came together at rituals where the banjo played an essential part. White governments, rightfully afraid that the gatherings could instigate revolt, outlawed them without success. In the mid-nineteenth century, Blackface minstrels appropriated the instrument for their bands, spawning a craze. Eventually the banjo became part of jazz, bluegrass, and country, its deepest history forgotten.
"Gaddy brings the rich and complicated history of this seemingly humble instrument to light in this well-researched and equally well-written volume…This is a glorious and invaluable chronicle for music lovers and everyone interested in American culture." ―Booklist Starred Review
"Gaddy weaves an undeniably interesting tale…A deep dive into the social history of the banjo." ―Kirkus Reviews
"Kristina R. Gaddy recenters the banjo as a Black instrument and as an icon of the African diaspora, before and beyond its perversion in the hands of Blackface Minstrels. Like a skillful archeologist, with empathy and respect, Gaddy excavates the sites, sightings, and citations of Black banjo as a central part of dances and rituals of celebration, remembrance, and resistance throughout the Americas. The erasure of this soulful history is an injustice that Gaddy corrects." ―Marc Fields, director of PBS’s Give Me the Banjo
|DURATION||9 Hours, 11 Minutes|
Available on NetGalley
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