November 24, 2016
Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn —
Truth, Beauty, Banjo

They are partners in music and in life — recovering something ancient and deeply American all at once, bringing both beauty and meaning to what they play and how they live. Béla Fleck is one of the greatest living banjo players in the world. He’s followed what many experience as this quintessential American roots instrument back to its roots in Africa and taken it where no banjo has gone before. Abigail Washburn is a celebrated banjo player and singer, both in English and Chinese. Nashville Public radio brought us together at the Belcourt Theater in their hometown.

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has recorded over 40 albums, most famously with The Flecktones and New Grass Revival. His albums include Flight of the Cosmic Hippo, UFO Tofu, Rocket Science, and The Sparrow Quartet EP. His first full album collaboration with Abigail Washburn, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, was awarded the 2016 Grammy for Best Folk Album.

is a banjo player and singer. Her albums include Song of the Traveling Daughter and City of Refuge.

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While preparing for our live show with Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn in Nashville, their cover of “The Final Countdown” goes viral. So fun to watch!

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There is nothing more purposeful in life than to express what is deep in one's heart. Bela Fleck does this with his life-music. I am grateful for it.

This was such a fun episode. Music is incredibly powerful in so many ways. It is always interesting to hear a musician take an instrument to new levels and finding new ways to reach an audience. For some reason the lyrics to a CSN song comes to mind "If you smile at me, I will understand, because that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language." Music has this same power. As always, a big thanks to On Being for bringing another enlightening show to your listeners.

Was blessed to witness Bela & Abigale last fall in one of my most memorable concert ever! Highly recommend it. This Blessing for Music by John Odonohue came to mind while listen to this show -
All the best Happy 4th of July !!!

With so much emphasis on the written and posted word these days, it is lovely to appreciate the communication of music--the tears and fears of moving with each other across the verbal limitation of culture and continents.
I loved listening to how Abigail and Bela work their life as artists and a family. Thank you, Thank you.

Post note about the interview of Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn--they talk about Bartok. A recent discovery of Bartok and Banjo is by Jake Schepps. It's great.

If music be the soul of love, play on.

What a fantastic show!!! Abigail Washburn and Bela Fleck are the salt of the earth! I cried when she sang about the coal miners. I'm 50 and like many, I have longed for authenticity, trying to understand who I am. These two are a gift, they open a window to the past. Now I will seek out the film, "Throw Down Your Heart". I love learning history and culture through music. Thank you :)

I could listen to Krista Tippet's voice for days. It is so soothing and the story is always so compelling. My public radio WABE airs you show at 4pm on Sunday afternoon. Its a nice peaceful time of the day and week to listen. My husband introduced my to bluegrass and he and his brother play although its my brother in law who plays the banjo. I came to the relationship loving folk music and so a bridge was built! I sent this episode to both of them and hope they enjoy it as much as I did and plan to buy the album for my brother in law for his August birthday.

Having lived in Eastern Ky I cried when Abigale sang that song at the end...
It was a wonderful episode, thank you!

Wouldn't trade this experience for anything!

As so many of your episodes do, this one moved me to tears. Abigail's rendition of the coalminer's wife song and the social justice undertones...
Thank you for enlightening my soul each and every week.

I have followed Bela (and his pals in NGR) for a very long time. I am so delighted that he and Abigail and Juno are now part of our world in a totally different way. How wonderful was this interview? Fabulous! Thanks to the Flecks, to On Being, and to WPLN in my hometown of Nashville for making this available to us! Let's get you booked in Memphis at BPACC or GPAC. Pick away! Betty

Wonderful interview.... thank you for the music, the stories, the sharp wit. Beautiful!

I was wondering, if there was a possibility, if the latest show is really new or a repetion of an old one. Sometimes it's clear to me, that I listened to this one already, but sometimes I am excited to hear something new, but then it sounds too familar and I realize, that it isn't new. Is there a way that you could make it clear or maybe you do and I don't notice?
Thanks for letting me know and thanks a lot for bringing so much joy to my life!

Wonderful interview.

If you are interested in the roots of the banjo and great playing, please interview Tony Trishka.

Wow. Great program Krista, Thanks! I know little about music but I can feel the openness, beauty, kindness and love. Wonderful program and wonderful people who will inspire me to more self examination of body, mind and heart.

Beautiful, just beautiful. I think this is my favorite On Being episode ever! Thank you for creating this wonderful and continually fresh and inspiring show.

Adam Rosendahl

Please tell Béla there is no "t" in UFO. ;)

I don't go to many concerts. I've seen Abigail (with and without Bela) at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill, North Carolina 4 times in about 5 years; they claim to like the place. We really like her (and Bela, when he's around). Last show was with Silk Road. This presentation of beauty and love never grows old.

I love the discussion about the music being a container. As Abigail sang "Coal Miner's Wife", I recalled something that was shared with me by a fellow participant at a Center for Courage and Renewal Retreat this past summer---"Music is how we metabolize emotions". Thank you for this podcast episode and the sweet remembrances it called forth!