The roots of the banjo trace directly to West Africa. White Southerners learned to play early gourd banjos, probably built from the African slaves’ memories. The banjo was popularized in the 19th century by minstrel shows. Though it seemed close to disappearing in the late 20th century, the African-American banjo tradition has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, led by such young artists as Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, Jerron Paxton, and Amythyst Kiah.
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