Program Details

Race, Identity, and America's African Instrument - Boca Raton

Matthew Sabatella

Course Description

How did the banjo, which has roots in West Africa, become a symbol of rural white America? Along the way, the instrument took center stage in America's most popular entertainment form in the mid-19th century and found a home in the Victorian parlor. This program tells the story of the banjo from its African roots through its development in the Caribbean, early history with people in slavery in North America, growth in popularity through blackface minstrel performances, integration into dance and song traditions in Appalachia, and its role in 20th and 21st-century ragtime, jazz, folk, old-time, bluegrass, country, popular, and world music. Space is limited. "I thoroughly enjoyed this presenter. The information was fascinating & the presenter was so prepared & enthusiastic. I would definitely recommend this lecture" - OLLI Patron

About the Instructor

  • Matthew Sabatella, M.A. brings to life music that is woven into the fabric of the United States. As a singer, instrumentalist, recording artist, performer, speaker, and writer, he illuminates the connection between music and the story and people of the United States. He performs regularly, both as a solo artist and as the leader of the Rambling String Band. The nonprofit he founded, Ballad of America, Inc., preserves and celebrates music from America's diverse cultural history. Sabatella has been singular in his mission to share America's rich musical heritage with others, both for the sheer love of the music and for its value in inspiring people to better understand each other, the past, present, and future. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Music from the University of Miami and a Master of Arts in History from Florida International University.