Abigail Washburn thought she had her goals set. She was on her way to a legal career in China when a bluegrass song, of all things, stopped her in her tracks. At a party, she heard a recording of Doc Watson singing “Shady Grove,” and she fell in love with the banjo.
“I was struck by it as something that sounded uniquely American. I had this revelation: I just don't know enough about America,” she says. “I love this place China … but I don't know enough about my own country’s roots and culture and traditions.”
So she picked up the banjo herself, and what started off as a hobby turned into a record deal. Since then, she has become one of the foremost practitioners of Americana music, and got married to banjo superstar Béla Fleck. Their album of duets comes out in October 2014.
(Originally aired: October 14, 2011)
Ruan (Guitar Version)Artist: John ZornAlbum: Film Works ViiLabel: Tzadik
Shady GroveArtist: Doc WatsonAlbum: The Best Of Doc Watson 1964-1968Label: Vanguard Records
Song of the Traveling DaughterArtist: Abigail WashburnAlbum: Song of the Traveling DaughterLabel: Nettwerk Records
City of RefugeArtist: Abigail WashburnAlbum: City of RefugeLabel: Rounder