Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Banjo -- An African instrument

I'll bet most of you didn't know that the banjo has it roots in Africa? Well, it does!

One of the ladies going to Guinea Bissau with us plays the banjo and if I'm not mistaken she recently purchased a N'goni (Xalam)
Xalam, also spelled khalam, said to be an ancestor to the American banjo is the Wolof name for a traditional stringed musical instrument from West Africa. The xalam is thought to have originated from modern-day Mali, but some believe that, in antiquity, the instrument may have originated from ancient Egypt.
Today, Maritza, our contact in Guinea Bissau notified me that she has located a local musician who will find our lady an instrument and have it ready in the next few weeks and...he has agreed to meet us to give her a lesson or two while we are in Guinea Bissau.  What a treat!! I'll be sure to take pictures and video and post when we return.

I also hope to post an interview and get more information to share in the coming months. In the meantime, here's a message she sent me a few weeks ago:

"It's Official! "Give Me The Banjo" will be broadcast on PBS stations on October 5 (check your local listings for show time in your area). Narrated by Steve Martin, this documentary was funded by me and a bunch of other banjo players and friends. Some of the people featured in this documentary are my mentors and friends. Please watch!

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