“The Banjo: A Musical Conversation” with Laurent Dubois and Joe Newberry

​The banjo links disparate musical and cultural traditions — from Africa to the Caribbean to the United States — and its history is deeply interwoven with the history of those places. ​Recently, NHC Fellow Laurent Dubois and musician Joe Newberry​ participated in a “musical conversation” exploring this fascinating history and performed songs for NHC trustees, Fellows and special guests.

Laurent Dubois is ​Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History and faculty director of the Forum for Scholars and Publics at Duke University. He is a specialist on the history and culture of the Atlantic world, with a focus on the Caribbean and particularly Haiti​ and has written, edited, or translated seventeen volumes on these topics​. ​He wrote his most recent book,​ ​​The Banjo: America’s African Instrument​, while he was a Fellow at the National Humanities Center in 2008–09.

Joe Newberry is known throughout the folk and bluegrass world as a gifted musician and ​award-winning ​songwriter​ who has delighted audiences for over ​30 years with his innovative banjo playing, as well as his skills with the guitar and fiddle. He’s been a frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and regularly appears at camps and festivals around the country​ ​​where he ​teaches traditional music and song​.​