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In order to trace the genealogy of the banjo back through its African roots, Béla Fleck took an extended trip to the continent, arranging multiple opportunities to connect with local musicians. The trip became a documentary film called Throw Down Your Heart. The title of the film comes from a story told of the men and women taken by force across country to the edge of the jungles. When they saw the ocean, and the ships, the elders recognized that the journey would be one-way. As they considered their fate, the distraught people were advised to ‘throw down their hearts,’ forever connecting them to their homeland.

The musical influences and experiences of the tour have changed Fleck and all of the musicians who participated in the project: their connections created new sounds, and relationships that crossed genres and generations.

This week’s playlist includes banjo joy reflecting both the influences of its Appalachian development, as well as the almost forgotten links of its African ancestors. And, as a bonus, two lovely songs featuring Fleck’s musical and life partner, Abigail Washburn.


ST#98 – Throw Down Your Heart