Otis Taylor at Gibson.com

Otis Taylor - Recapturing The BanjoGibson has a lengthy article on their web site which features an interview with blues artist Otis Taylor, whose Recapturing The Banjo CD we discussed here last week.

The newly-released project represents Taylor’s desire to reconnect the banjo as it is known in our modern society with its African roots, and the fact that it was African slaves who introduced it in America, and their descendants who made it a part of our musical culture.

As he explains to Ted Drozdowski at Gibson.com…

"I want people to know that the banjo came from Africa‚Äîthat it’s an African instrument," Taylor explains by phone from his Colorado home. "Recapturing the Banjo is an educational album, not just good music. A lot of people think the banjo was developed for bluegrass or Appalachian folk music, but banjo-like instruments discovered on archeological digs in North Africa have been dated back at least 700 years. I want to recapture the banjo’s identity as a black instrument. It didn’t get here until the slaves did."

We applaud Taylor for his effort, and wish him great success. Our beloved 5 string can only benefit from a wider acceptance from new artists (and audiences), something Taylor recognizes as well.

"I do see a little bit of a resurgence of interest in the banjo," Taylor concurs. "Every time a young band gets on stage with one and their fans see it, it’s a good thing, because it makes the banjo contemporary. Which it is. My album has some old music, but it’s very modern. The truth is, with a banjo‚Äîwhether it’s a black-music thing, an old-timey thing, or a psychedelic thing‚Äîin the right hands it can sound timeless.”

Read the full piece at Gibson.com, where they also have a free MP3 download from Recapturing The Banjo.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.