April 1, 2024

Maestro banjoists Abigail Washburn and Béla Fleck make their way to the Spruce Peak arts stage this Saturday, April 6th at 7PM for a SOLD OUT performance! Before their dazzle you with their international acclaimed, genre-crossing musicality, get to know the husband and wife pairing heralded as the “King and Queen of the Banjo!”

Béla Fleck is an American banjo player who has revolutionized the perception and possibilities of bluegrass across various genres. Born in 1958 in New York City, Fleck began playing music at a young age, starting with the guitar before transitioning to the banjo when he was in high-school. He is renowned for his innovative approach to the banjo, blending traditional bluegrass with jazz, classical, funk, and world music influences.

After entering the music scene in 1976, Fleck’s career took off in the 1980s when he formed the band Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, which showcased his groundbreaking fusion style. The group’s eclectic sound garnered widespread acclaim, earning numerous Grammy Awards and solidifying Fleck’s reputation as a virtuoso musician. Beyond his work with the Flecktones, he has collaborated with a diverse array of artists, including Chick Corea, Zakir Hussain, and Edgar Meyer, pushing the boundaries of banjo performance and composition.

Abigail Washburn is an accomplished American folk musician known for her distinctive blend of traditional Appalachian sounds with Chinese folk music influences. Born in 1977 in Illinois, Washburn developed a passion for music from a young age, eventually honing her skills as a singer-songwriter and banjo player. She gained recognition for her unique approach to the banjo, incorporating elements of old-time music and folk storytelling into her work. 

Washburn’s career took a significant turn when she began exploring Chinese folk music and culture. She studied Mandarin and Chinese culture at Colorado College and Middlebury College, and she later traveled to China, where she immersed herself in the country’s musical traditions. This fusion of Appalachian and Chinese influences became a hallmark of her music, earning her widespread acclaim and a dedicated international following. Washburn became a touring member of “all-G’aerls” group Uncle Earl, playing with the group for five consecutive years.

Washburn and Fleck started collaborating when Fleck served as producer for Washburn’s debut solo album Songs for the Traveling Daughter (2005). The two then founded bluegrass group Sparrow Quartet together, creating a unique blend of American and Chinese folk music and further solidifying Washburn’s growing reputation as an innovator in the folk music scene. The two also started dating during this period, marrying privately sometime around 2010. The two created their first duo album together, Abigail Washburn and Béla Fleck, in 2014. The album received critical album and won the Grammy Award for Best Folk Album. As previously noted, their union is sometimes heralded as the “King and Queen of Banjo”.

When they are not touring, Washburn and Fleck live in Nashville. They have two sons, born in 2013 and 2018.

Want to know more about Abigail Washburn and Béla Fleck? You can visit their websites, www.abigailwashburn.com and www.belafleck.com, for upcoming concerts and more!

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