How the Banjo Shaped White American Country Music

In modern day, most people think the Banjo is just related to white American people and country music only but that’s not the case. The evolution of the Banjo can be traced back as early as Egypt, which then it was under the name Banjar. The Banjo eventually made its way to Europe, specifically Ireland, which is how it came to America in the mid 1800s. 

When the Banjo was introduced to America during the mid 1800s, it was in the form of Minstrel shows. Minstrelsy was a form of racism towards black people but whilst mocking the black it was also appropriating the Banjo. 

This period is considered the minstrel era and was so offensive and hurtful that the culture that brought the instrument to America abandoned it in large part.

“When minstrelsy came into play, there was a push back… a logical push back, especially after the end of the Civil War among the black culture,” Baier said. “And while the black culture thrived musically, the banjo had little to do with it.” Jim Johnson, KGOU


It comes as a shock to many once they learn the true origins of the Banjo. Most think that country music is derivative from Europe but as we’ve seen, it’s actually from Europe. It is important for Country artist to acknowledge the decent of the banjo. This knowledge should be implemented in music courses and schools all over. 

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