Aha Moment: Doc Watson & Abigail Washburn

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Abigail Washburn
From and

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)

Music Playlist

  1. Ruan (Guitar Version)

    Artist: John Zorn
    Album: Film Works Vii
    Label: Tzadik
  2. Shady Grove

    Artist: Doc Watson
    Album: The Best Of Doc Watson 1964-1968
    Label: Vanguard Records
  3. Song of the Traveling Daughter

    Artist: Abigail Washburn
    Album: Song of the Traveling Daughter
    Label: Nettwerk Records
  4. City of Refuge

    Artist: Abigail Washburn
    Album: City of Refuge
    Label: Rounder