Virginia Folklife Program

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

Amazing artists take Charlottesville from Africa to Appalachia

Pure magic happened in Charlottesville as Master Malian Griot Cheick Hamala Diabate joined two of Virginia’s finest traditional musicians, Sammy Shelor and Danny Knicely, for three days of musical collaboration and fellowship. In town for a three day residency, these three amazing artists got together for private jam sessions, a public workshop at the Bridge PAI, a visit to WTJU FM, and a program for students at Jackson-Via Elementary School. The signature event of the week was a scintillating evening performance to a standing-room-only crowd at the Jefferson School. The artists were joined by Hamala’s full band, as well as fine local artists Nate Leath, Aimee Curl, and Madeline Holly Sales of Beleza Brasil. More than a history lesson, the evening featured three contemporary artists at the peak of their game, and spoke to the transformative and boundary crossing power of music.

MAAF_new_logo_color_smallThis Mid Atlantic Folk Arts Outreach Project was funded by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

We also thank our producing partners: WTJU 91.1 FM, the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, and The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative.

From Africa to Appalachia: An Evening with Cheick Hamala Diabate, Sammy Shelor, Danny Knicely and friends

Thursday, February 20th, 8PM
Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
420 Commerce Street Charlottesville, VA

The development of the 5-string banjo, among the very first truly American-born instruments, provides a revelatory lens into the development of American popular music and culture, and its immense contributions by African cultural traditions.  It is now indisputable that what we now know as the banjo was derived from lutes brought by enslaved Africans to the New World, most notably the West African n’goni and kora. It has been well argued that the European violin (fiddle) and African-derived banjo comprised “the first duet” in the New World, providing the cornerstone of American musical forms for centuries to come.

From Africa to Appalachia will take the n’goni and the banjo full circle, bringing together Grammy-nominated Master Malian Griot Cheick Hamala Diabate with Sammy Shelor, one of the most celebrated bluegrass banjoists of his generation.  Much acclaimed multi-instrumentalist Danny Knicely will join in, as well as numerous special guests, guaranteeing a truly memorable and powerful evening of music.

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This event is produced by the Virginia Folklife Program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, in partnership with the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center and WTJU 91.1 FM.

MAAF_new_logo_bwThis Mid Atlantic Folk Arts Outreach Project is funded by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

In addition, the artists will be joined by Maryland Folklorist Blaine Wade for an intimate performance and workshop at the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, 209 Monticello Road, Charlottesville, Va. 22902, at Noon on Thursday, February 20th.  This event is free and open to the public.

 Video From the Richmond Folk Festival

About the Artists



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