Abigail Washburn is a singer-songwriter and clawhammer banjo player who re-radicalized the instrument by combining it with Far East culture and sounds. Washburn has the earthy sophistication of a postmodern, old-time singer-songwriter who has drawn critical acclaim for her solo albums. She has done fascinating work in folk musical diplomacy in China, presented an original theatrical production, and has contributed to singular side groups Uncle Earl and The Wu-Force. In addition to being named a TED Fellow in 2012, Abigail was recently named the first US-China Fellow at Vanderbilt University, in addition to Carolina Performing Arts/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s DisTil Fellow for 2018-2020.
On stage, Washburn and her husband Béla Fleck will perform pieces from their Grammy-winning self-titled debut as well as their new record, Echo in the Valley (Rounder 2017). With one eye on using the banjo to showcase America’s rich heritage and the other pulling the noble instrument from its most familiar arena into new and unique realms, Bela & Abigail meet in the mean, head-on, to present music that feels wildly innovative and familiar at the same time. Whether at home, on stage or on record, their deep bond, combined with the way their distinct musical personalities and banjo styles interact, makes theirs a picking partnership unlike any other on the planet.