Quotes by: Abigail Washburn
Washburn at the Smithsonian Folk Festival, 2014
November 10, 1977 |
Evanston, Illinois, U.S.
||Vocals, Clawhammer Banjo
||Nettwerk, Rounder Records
||Béla Fleck, The Sparrow Quartet, Uncle Earl
I would still describe China as a vast, invigorating puzzle that will never make sense to my western upbringing.
Whenever I visited China in the past, the relationships always felt superficial; there was no time where I felt those moments of conflict and delight that make you feel close to another person. But since I started touring there in 2004, I would always collaborate with local musicians, and that opened up a new level of intimacy.
In some ways, in the U.S. we don't know how to be. I think in a lot of ways America is about liberation and about change and progressive human relations. And because of that, I feel like that we're confused about who we're supposed to be and what it is that's supposed to satisfy us and make us feel fulfilled.
I feel like my kind of music is a big pot of different spices. It's a soup with all kinds of ingredients in it.
My parents played the radio, but music was never an obsession or something that I thought I could call a career.
I have a general sense of mission, and I intuitively know when something is influencing that mission. I think this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Doors keep opening. In the end, it's the best use of my skills. I've finally consented to the idea that I'm an artist.
In China, I realized that if you visit often enough and learn the language, you will be assimilated, but you'll still be kept at arm's length; you'll always be looked on as a foreigner.
You have to try things you're really afraid of, even if you pee yourself a little bit.
In some ways, my most comfortable feeling has been that of being an outsider coming in, but over the years I've tired of that and I'm ready to feel at home. That's what music gives me: a feeling of absolute home.
You can enjoy many different types of music. I think that's something more Americans should think about.
One of my favorite albums in the world is Bruce Springsteen's 'Nebraska.' Each song has this very distinct character who has something profound to say.
I would say I've always lived creativity, but now I - I do it with an intention that's got a completely different power.
I reside in a new colony for the Chinese-singing banjo player, with a population of one. At least I have something I have to do with my life.
I'm no ethnomusicologist. There is a connection between the five-note scale used both in traditional Chinese music and the blues, but I don't really understand it. All I know is, whenever I play with Chinese musicians, we seem to belong to the same musical gene pool.
'Halo' I wrote with my grandpa in his nursing home. When I went to visit him, he'd often comment on my halo. But of course, I couldn't see. And he always - he had pictures of Jesus with these beautiful halos. And so I asked him if he'd write a song with me about Jesus' halo.
As a child, I went to peace and ERA marches on the back of my mom and grandmother. Through them I learned that I wanted to find a way to make the world a more kind, compassionate place.
For most Americans, my Chinese music feels like a novelty, and it's not what it is for me.
I feel like the one insight that's extremely comforting to me about the world is that we all share the same pool of emotion that we draw from.
I believe in the old, because it shows us where we come from - where our souls have risen from. And I believe in the new, because it gives us the opportunity to create who we are becoming.
China was the first time I truly felt like an outsider. I fell in love with the process of trying to become intimate with the culture.
I've moved around so much my whole life, and I've gotten so used to being the Other in situations - the foreigner, the outsider. The first time I've ever felt like there was no separation between me and the other elements was in music.
Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech always sends me down some path, some trajectory of some creative idea.