The Banjo Strikes Again

Last April I blogged about the documentary featuring Béla Fleck entitled Throw Down Your Heart. I'm not a film critic, so I won't comment on its cinematic merits, but I did find the soundtrack to be a moving tribute to the banjo, an instrument Mr. Fleck has devoted his music career to. Apparently, the Grammy judges also liked the album. He walked away with two awards last weekend: Best Contemporary World Music Album and Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

The recording that resulted from his trip to Africa doesn't sound like pop to my ears, but it does include examples of tremendous ability performed by people who in all likelihood, have never before released their music in physical or digital form. Track down a copy of it and listen for yourself. I'm sure you'll discover a song or an instrumental phrase, captured live, thousands of miles from your speakers, that you'll want to hear again. And again.

For me "Jesus Is the Only Answer" packs a wallop the way few songs do. When the singers' voices rise in unison during the refrain, their joy lifts me up; it sounds supremely hopeful. But my happiness is fleeting. There's a sadness hiding behind the lyrics, and when the music stops, I feel like my heart could too.

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