An International Language

If you listen closely, over the noise of the big city, you might hear something rather lovely - especially for an American. It's a taste of down home from back home.

Her name is Abigail Washburn. Washburn is a musician; she's even performed at the Beijing jazz festival.

"I guess you could say, between China and the banjo, China was my first love," says Washburn. "It was actually spending all this time living in China and feeling awkward in a different country that led me to look back to my own roots and discover what it was about my country that made me feel like I belonged. and that's when I found the banjo."

She honed her banjo skills in Nashville…writing and playing. "I feel like the attraction for me is that it really leads me back home... And it makes home clearly greater than anything one could possibly put into words," she says.

If you're close, you'll hear America's heartland. But the words may seem unusual…they are, after all, Chinese.

"And I like the idea that all of us are becoming more of this amorphous global citizen rather than people that stand behind national lines. I like the idea of the nation state itself sort of dissolving and all of us sharing a culture while preserving a sense of what's great about where we come from," says Washburn.

Bluegrass started in America in the 1940s…some jazz, a little Irish jig…a bit of blues. A mixture, like much of American music. So adding in a little Chinese, seems just fine.
By Barry Petersen