What Do China And The Banjo Have In Common?

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Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode The Creative Process.

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About Abigail Washburn's TEDTalk

"Is it an original idea? Or is it something where you're literally a creative collagist? You're taking pieces of the world that you see around you and that are inside of you and put them together in a way that you see fit." — Abigail Washburn i i

hide caption"Is it an original idea? Or is it something where you're literally a creative collagist? You're taking pieces of the world that you see around you and that are inside of you and put them together in a way that you see fit." — Abigail Washburn

Shervil Lainez /Courtesy of Abigail Washburn
"Is it an original idea? Or is it something where you're literally a creative collagist? You're taking pieces of the world that you see around you and that are inside of you and put them together in a way that you see fit." — Abigail Washburn

"Is it an original idea? Or is it something where you're literally a creative collagist? You're taking pieces of the world that you see around you and that are inside of you and put them together in a way that you see fit." — Abigail Washburn

Shervil Lainez /Courtesy of Abigail Washburn

TED Fellow Abigail Washburn wanted to be a lawyer working on U.S.-China relations — until she picked up a banjo. In this TEDTalk, she tells a moving story of the remarkable connections she's formed touring across the United States and China while playing that banjo and singing in Chinese.

About Abigail Washburn

Abigail Washburn pairs venerable folk elements with far-flung sounds, creating results that feel both strangely familiar and unlike anything anybody's ever heard before. If American old-time music is about adopting earlier, simpler ways of life and music-making, Washburn has proven herself a challenge to that tradition.

A singing, songwriting, Chinese-speaking, Illinois-born, Nashville-based, clawhammer banjo player, she is every bit as interested in the present and the future as in the past, and every bit as attuned to the global as the local. From the recovery zones of earthquake-shaken Sichuan to the hollers of Tennessee, Washburn pairs venerable folk elements with far-flung sounds. The results feel both strangely familiar and unlike anything anybody's ever heard before. To put it another way, she changes what seems possible.

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