Podcast 389: Kristina R. Gaddy, Author of ‘Well of Souls’

Author Kristina R. Gaddy joins us this week to talk about her new book, Well of Souls: Uncovering the Banjo’s Hidden History. This is unlike any instrument history book you’ve ever read… and we can’t recommend it enough.

Though it’s widely known that the banjo was brought to the Americas via enslaved Black people, there’s so much we still don’t know about this instrument’s earliest period. Through journal entries, books, art, surviving instruments, and some amazing detective work, Gaddy reveals that the banjo wasn’t just a musical instrument for slaves… it was also a deeply important spiritual tool.

During our chat, we ask Gaddy about the making of the book, the unlikely places she found her evidence, and the unique construction of those earliest instruments. We also talk about the banjo’s growing popularity with a new generation of Black musicians.

More on the book: https://wwnorton.com/books/9780393866803

More on Kristina R. Gaddy (plus some cool bonus photos of early banjos): www.kristinagaddy.com/wellofsouls

Pete Ross (Gaddy’s partner / old-time banjo maker): https://www.banjopete.com

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