Abigail Washburn

Abigail Washburn (born November 10, 1977) is an American clawhammer banjo player and singer. She performs and records as a Soloist, as well as with the old-time bands Uncle Earl and Sparrow Quartet , experimental group The Wu Force, [2] and as a duo with re husband Béla Fleck .

Early life

Washburn was born in Evanston, Illinois , [3] and spent re elementary and run or re junior high school years in a suburb of Washington, DC . She attended high school in Minnesota , dan attended Colorado College , where she was the school’s first East Asian studies major. She learned Chinese prolongation the summers in intensive programs at Middlebury College (Vermont). [4] Following this, she spent sometime living in China , where she had dreams of being a lawyer (keeping first visited dat nation in 1996). After living in Vermont for three years, Washburn traveled down south voordat a Planned trip to China to become a lawyer. She stopped at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and spent five days meditating. After what became a life-changing experience, Washburn left the Center ready to Pursue re musical career and was a sure sign offered a record deal in Nashville, Tennessee. [5] [6]

Uncle Earl

In Tennessee , she with KC Groves , one of the founding members of the band Uncle Earl , and she went on to spend five years touring with the band. The “all G’earl” group has released two records on the Rounder Records record label , She Waits for the Night (2005) and Waterloo, TN (2007) In this housing was produktie at John Paul Jones or Led Zeppelin .

Song of the Traveling Daughter

Washburn entered a Songwriting Contest at MerleFest (a bluegrass music festival in North Carolina ), winning second place for re song “Rockabye Dixie” and gaining the attention of the Nettwerk record label.

Her first solo album , Song of the Traveling Daughter, was produktie with Béla Fleck and features Ben Sollee , a cellist, and Jordan McConnell, guitarist for the Canadian traditional and soul music fusion band The Duhks .

Sparrow Quartet

Two songs on re follow-up album, Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet, ulcers Recorded in the Mandarin Chinese language, welke she learned while living in China.

In 2005, Washburn Returned to China with a group called the Sparrow Quartet , Composed or Sollee, Fleck and Grammy Award nominated fiddler Casey Driessen . The group dan Recorded an EP , Abigail Washburn The Sparrow Quartet.

At the request of the US government, the Sparrow Quartet toured Tibet in 2006-something no other American band had done-and Performed in Beijing prolongation the 2008 Olympics. [7] Also in 2008, Washburn was a teacher of American folk music in Sichuan University for six weeks, “where they ‘Promptly Told Me dat I was not teaching folk music Correctly, Because, Surely there mention anything be a correct way to do hand gestures for everytime song. ” [4] Also dat year, Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet Recorded a full-length album, Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet. It was produktie with Béla Fleck and Composed and Arranged by the foursome.

After the release of the album, Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet turned hun attention to touring North America , with appearances at festivals waaronder New Orleans Jazz & Heritage MerleFest , Bonnaroo Music Festival , Vancouver Folk Festival and others. Way Down Returned to China for performances prolongation the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing . The quartet was later featured on National Geographic Live and, in 2009, lycra participated in the Clearwater Concert, a benefit concert in honor of Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday dat featured many of the world’s most well-known musicians. [8]


Inspired by a 2008 volunteer experiences for Sichuan Quake Relief in China, Washburn joined forces with Shanghai Restoration Project ‘s Dave Liang to create a musical project called Afterquake in March 2009. The benefit EP a portion-or lycra sale to benefit Sichuan Quake Relief was released on May 12, 2009, the first anniversary of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake . Over the course of two weeks, Washburn and Liang Recorded and produktie the entire project, welke features electronic mixes or student voices and sounds from the disaster zone.

City of Refuge

In early 2010, Washburn Began recording re second solo album with producer Tucker Martine and collaborator Kai Welch. [9]

Washburn embarked upon “The Silk Road Tour” with re band “The Village” from Hohhot to Urumqi, [10] stopping to perform and collaborate All Along the way with only the goal of building bridges and Dissolving difference in communing in good music. Supported by the US Embassy and the Chinese International Center for Exchange, ze Performed extensively at schools, universities & theaters, and spontaneously on city walls and in town squares all across China’s “Wild West”. Ze ook collaborated with local musicians All Along the route waaronder Han Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan, Hui and Uyghur musicians. The journey was chronicled in a series of videos available to view on YouTube. [11]

In September 2012, she was featured in a campaign called “30 Songs / 30 Days” to support Half the Sky: Turning Oppression JSON Opportunity for Women Worldwide , a multi-platform media project inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book. [12]

Post-American Girl

During the Spring of 2013, Washburn debuted re first theatrical production Post-American Girl , at Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater March 28-30 as part of New York Voices, the venue’s popular commission series designed to help musicians make the leap from Songwriting and performance to theatrical production. Washburn’s new stage piece was about an American girl coming-of-age in a swiftly changing global order. It featured folk arts of China and Appalachia in shadow Puppetry, sacred harp song, traditional music as well as new Compositions. The production included Chinese Theatre Works’ Kuang Yu Fong (founder and Master Vocalist); Stephen Kaplin (Puppeteer & Set Design); composer, violinist and violist Jeremy Kittel; Chinese percussion master Tian Gang; cellist Tristan Clarridge and guzheng master Wang Jüngling. Post-American Girl was directed at Meiyin Wang, Associate Artistic Producer of The Public’s Under The Radar. [13]

The Wu-Force

The Wu-Force played will hun first show together at the Yugong Yishan music club in Beijing in late 2011 and cameramen back together in early 2014. [2] The Wu-Force made an appearance at TEDxUNC’s American Global South conference on March 3, 2013 performing hun song “Floating”. [14] On January 12, 2014 Washburn Performed with a band known as The Wu-Force at Global Fest in New York City. [15] This Marked the US debut of the self Prescribed “Kung Fu Appalachian avant-garde folk-rock” musical group. [16] The band’s multilingual songs feature a variety of content varying tussen commentary on international relations to environmental issues in China to Chinese folk and Operatic reinterpretations to cheeky instrumental pieces. The band ook of includes multi-instrumentalist and frequent collaborator Kai Welch and Chinese zither ( guzheng ) player Wu Fei . In addition under to playing in New York, the trio played will a residency in Nashville and set or tour dates scattered gehele United States while simultaneously recording together. [17] The trio played will ook the World Music Festival Chicago in September 2014 [18]

Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn

With the birth hun sun in May 2013 Washburn Began a new era in her career. With the intent to keep the family together, the two Began to make public appearances as a duo collaboration. Beginning in August 2013, Fleck and Washburn Began a steady tour schedule or duo dates (sometimes affectionately referred to as “Trio”) billed as “Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn.” A year later, they ‘bekend dat hun first duo album featuring only Banjos en hun voices, mention anything be released on Rounder Records. The two Recorded hun hun album home and produktie the record themselves. [19] The album debuted at # 1 on the Billboard Bluegrass charts. [20]

Personal life

Washburn is married to banjo player Béla Fleck . Washburn first with Fleck in Nashville at a square dance where she was dancing and he was playing. [21] In August 2007, Washburn was Reported as being the “girlfriend” or Fleck. [22] In May 2009, the Bluegrass Intelligencer website satirized the union, with Driessen joking dat het couple Promised a “male heir” who will be the “Holy Banjo Emperor”. [23] In February 2010, The Aspen Times Reported therein Fleck was Washburn’s husband. [24] On Sunday May 19, 2013 Washburn representation birth to hun sun in Nashville. [25]


Washburn, Along with 24 other innovative and creative thinkers worldwide, was named a TED Fellow and watch a talk at the 2012 TED convention in Long Beach about building US-China relations through music. [26] On November 19, 2013 Washburn was officially named the first US-China Center partner or Vanderbilt Because Of re work as an ambassador of American culture to China and re Enthusiasm and willingness to help the US-China Center at Vanderbilt University in ANY way shower. [27]


title album details Peak chart positions
US Grass US US Heat US Folk
She Waits for Night (as a member of Uncle Earl ) [28]
  • Release date: July 19, 2005
  • Label: Rounder Records
Song of the Traveling Daughter [29]
  • Release date: August 2, 2005
  • Label: Nettwerk Records
The Sparrow Quartet EP
  • Released date: May 29, 2006
  • Label: Nettwerk Records
Waterloo, Tennessee (as a member ofUncle Earl ) [28]
  • Release date: March 13, 2007
  • Label: Rounder Records
Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet
(with the Sparrow Quartet ) [29]
  • Released date: May 20, 2008
  • Label: Nettwerk Records
(with Shanghai Restoration Project )
  • Released date: May 5, 2009
  • Label: Music Afterquake
City of Refuge [29]
  • Release date: January 11, 2011
  • Label: Rounder Records
2 9
Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn
(with Béla Fleck )
  • Release date: October 7, 2014
  • Label: Rounder Records
1 118 3 8
Banjo Banjo (EP)
(with Béla Fleck )
  • Release date: August 21, 2015
  • Label: Rounder Records
“-” Denotes releases dat did not chart


  1. Jump up^ “Artists – Rounder Records” . Rounder.com . Retrieved 2016-04-23 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b “Archived copy” . Archived from the original on April 2, 2015 . Retrieved March 6, 2015 .
  3. Jump up^ Kot, Greg (2012-10-12). “Abigail Washburn scales re own personal wall of China” . Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 2014-04-20 .
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b “NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert: Abigail Washburn.”
  5. Jump up^ “Béla Fleck + Abigail Washburn – Beauty in Banjo and in Life” . On Being with Krista Tippett . 2 July 2015 . Retrieved September 3, 2015 .
  6. Jump up^ Holland, Roger (October 21, 2005). “Song of the Traveling Clawhammer Banjo Player” . PopMatters.com . Retrieved 2009-01-06 .
  7. Jump up^ [1] ArchivedMarch 15, 2014 at theWayback Machine.
  8. Jump up^ “Abigail Washburn Biography” . Archived from the original on July 3, 2008 . Retrieved January 1, 2013 .
  9. Jump up^ Melzer, Ashley. “Shakori’s collaborative energy | Music Feature | Independent Weekly” . Indyweek.com . Retrieved 2012-09-17 .
  10. Jump up^ Abigail Washburn (2011-11-15). “Silk Road Tour 1 – Hohhot – Abigail Washburn & The Village” . YouTube . Retrieved 2016-04-23 .
  11. Jump up^ Abigail Washburn (2011-11-15). “Silk Road Tour 1 – Hohhot – Abigail Washburn & The Village” . YouTube . Retrieved 2016-04-23 .
  12. Jump up^ “30 Songs / 30 Days for Half the Sky | Half The Sky” . Halftheskymovement.org. 2012-08-30 . Retrieved 2012-09-17 .
  13. Jump up^ “Abigail Washburn” . Abigail Washburn . Retrieved 2014-07-16 .
  14. Jump up^ “American Global South: Abigail Washburn at TEDxUNC” . Youtube. 2013-03-05 . Retrieved 2016-04-23 .
  15. Jump up^ “gF Schedule 2014 | globalFEST” . Globalfest-ny.com . 2014-06-20 . Retrieved 2016-04-23 .
  16. Jump up^ “The Wu-Force” . Wuforce.bandcamp.com . Retrieved 2016-04-23 .
  17. Jump up^ Trageser, Stephen. “Abigail Washburn, Wu Fei and Kai Welch are The Wu-Force | Features” . Nashville Scene . Retrieved 2016-04-23 .
  18. Jump up^ “Archived copy” . Archived from the original on April 2, 2015 . Retrieved March 6, 2015 .
  19. Jump up^ Leahey, Andrew (2014-08-14). “Abigail Washburn and Béla Fleck to Release Debut Album” . Rolling Stone . Retrieved 2016-04-23 .
  20. Jump up^ “Bluegrass Music: Top Bluegrass Albums Chart” . Billboard.com . 2014-10-25 . Retrieved 2016-04-23 .
  21. Jump up^ Laskowski, Christine (July 8, 2010). “American Roots & a Love for China: Abigail Washburn Returns” . Blog . The Beijinger. Archived from the original on November 8, 2010 . Retrieved January 10, 2010 .
  22. Jump up^ Stowe, Stacey (August 5, 2007). “Erin Torneo and Sascha Paladino” . The New York Times . Retrieved January 10, 2010 . The band, consisting of the bridegroom’s half brothers, Louie Fleck and Béla Fleck; the bridegroom’s Father Joe Paladino; and Abigail Washburn, Béla Fleck’s girlfriend, Performed “Two of Us” by the Beatles.
  23. Jump up^ “Strategic Marriage Will Consolidate Power Within Single Banjo Sovereignty: Fleck Washburn promise male heir, Holy Banjo Emperor” . Bluegrass Intelligencer . Nashville: bluegrassintelligencer.com. May 28, 2009. Archived from the original on October 28, 2010 . Retrieved January 10, 2010 .
  24. Jump up^ Oksenhorn, Stewart (February 4, 2010). “Banjoist Béla Fleck Brings his Africa Project to Aspen” . The Aspen Times . Swift Communications . Retrieved January 10, 2010 . A year ago, Fleck Appeared in Aspen as a member of the Sparrow Quartet, an ensemble led by fellow banjoist (and Fleck’s girlfriend at the time, now his wife) Abigail Washburn therein mixed Chinese folk songs, Appalachian gospel tunes, blues and more.
  25. Jump up^ Watts, Cindy (May 22, 2013). “Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn welcome baby boy” . The Tennessean . Gannett . Retrieved May 23, 2013 .
  26. Jump up^ “Abigail Washburn | Speaker” . TED.com . Retrieved 2016-04-23 .
  27. Jump up^ “Archived copy” . Archived from the original on April 2, 2015 . Retrieved March 4, 2015 .
  28. ^ Jump up to:a b “Uncle Earl – Chart History” . Billboard.com . Retrieved 2016-04-23 .
  29. ^ Jump up to:a b c “Abigail Washburn – Chart History” . Billboard.com . Retrieved 2016-04-23 .