African

African post By Tyria Gilmore

  • The Banjo was an instrument that was made by African people. This instrument came from Gambia in the early 1600’s (1620). Slaves brought these instruments during the transatlantic slave trade. The Banjar was the earliest form of the Banjo. Slaves were forced to use these instruments to reduce pregnancy and morality. This instrument has strings that are very light and it is made with logs covered in sheep skin. 

This instrument was used in the eighteenth century but became heavily recognized in the United States during the nineteenth century and was used in minstrel shows. When the Banjo became popular the instrument received  a negative connotation. Whites had have the instrument a bad reputation because they wanted them to stop using the instrument. 


A popular folk artist that used this instrument was Odetta. She was born December 31, 1930 in Birmingham, Alabama. Her father died at a young age so she moved to Los Angelos with her mom. She was noticed at a very young age for her voice. And started performing and night clubs and that’s how she got her name. Also in 1961, the duo Harry Belafonte and Odetta made number 32 in the Uk singles chart with the song ”Theres a whole in the bucket” She is remembered for her performance at the March on Washington 1963 civil rights demonstration, at which she sang “O Freedom”. She died on December 2, 2008 in New York, NY. She was remembered for being a pioneer in the music industry and not only that but a music industry that mainly consisted of white people at the time. And she was the only Black woman to leave such an impact on Folk music. 

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